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Friday 6th of December 2019

Press Room

Reducing Room Confinement of Youth in Custody: A Roadmap

Friday 28th of June 2019 | North America, United States
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
News

In recent years, juvenile justice practitioners, researchers and advocates have raised awareness of the harms of room confinement or isolation of youth in detention and residential facilities. Research and empirical knowledge teach us that the practice can negatively impact youth’s developing brains and emotional health, impair youth’s relationships with staff, limit youth’s access to important programming and treatment, and ultimately lead to unsafe facility environments.

Unfortunately, despite this sea change of understanding, many facilities around the country continue to rely on the practice, viewing it as an essential strategy to ensure safety, order and control. This misconception stems from decades of misguided policy and practice.

In order to achieve better outcomes at the facility-level and upon release, systems must work to move away from the use of room confinement. Yet doing so is complex and involves a multifaceted approach.

In most jurisdictions, an important first step is to change the staff mindset on what constitutes an effective behavior motivation strategy. Many staff believe that room confinement is an impactful way to “get kids’ attention” and therefore deter misconduct. In actuality, placing youth in a room as punishment doesn’t address the root causes of the misbehavior — it doesn’t equip youth with skills to make better decisions and it doesn’t make them more likely to trust or build positive relationships with staff. To the contrary, it can create more resentment and a diminished sense of hope on the part of the youth.

 

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    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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