OLYMPIA - A bill to ban solitary confinement as a punitive practice for juveniles has passed in the state Legislature
The legislation was requested by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who reported studies have shown solitary confinement to be both emotionally and psychologically damaging for youth. Solitary confinement can also worsen stress and other mental conditions.
“Evidence tells us that youth solitary confinement does not work, causes trauma, and actually make it harder to rehabilitate youth,” Ferguson stated. “I remain deeply appreciative of the diverse, bipartisan coalition that came together to support this common sense criminal justice reform.”
The legislation places restrictions on the use of room confinement and isolation in youth detention facilities but does still allows the use of these tools limited to a period of no more than four hours, and only for the purpose of safety. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds) and Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Federal Way), applies to both county and state facilities.
“Solitary confinement is emotionally and psychologically damaging to youth, who are less developed and more vulnerable,” Wilson stated. “A study of suicides in juvenile facilities revealed half of all suicides occurred while in isolation and 62 percent had a history of solitary confinement. This bill is a critical and necessary next step in our work to reform and improve the system working with juveniles.”