Home News Center Proposed Ban On Solitary Confinement For Youth Would Be The First Of Its Kind

Proposed Ban On Solitary Confinement For Youth Would Be The First Of Its Kind

February 28, 2012
Benjamin Chambers

A Mississippi lawsuit over the treatment of youth in a privately-run prison for youth convicted as adults is nearing a historic settlement. In 2010, the Mississippi Youth Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – an NJJN member -- joined with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Jackson attorney Robert McDuff to file a class action suit against The GEO Group for confining youth in “barbaric, unconstitutional conditions.”

According to the lawsuit, guards at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility abused youth sexually and physically, brought in drugs, and routinely put youth in solitary confinement. The facility houses youth age 13-22 .

The proposed settlement, expected to be finalized on March 22, requires the Mississippi Department of Corrections to remove the youth from the GEO facility, provide them with rehabilitative services, and protect them from sexual abuse and violence. It also prohibits the department from placing youth in solitary confinement.

"It has been known for a long time that prolonged solitary confinement causes terrible suffering and psychiatric breakdown even in mature healthy adults -- let alone in emotionally vulnerable children and teenagers," the associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project, Margaret Winter, said in a statement. "Getting these kids out of the greedy hands of GEO is a big step forward, and the ban on solitary confinement in this decree is truly unprecedented."


Photo: Bill Ledbetter, under Creative Commons License.

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