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Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators Toolkit: Reducing the Use of Isolation

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2015
33 pages
This toolkit was developed for States to use as a guide to reduce the use of isolation in youth correctional and detention facilities.
The toolkit presents an overview of the issue of isolation and how it is defined. For the purposes of this toolkit, "isolation" means "any time a youth is physically and/or socially isolated for punishment or for administrative purposes." It also summarizes research that has substantiated the adverse impacts of isolation. Research has continually shown that isolation increases the risk for reoffending, can cause permanent psychological damage, does not reduce violence, and correlates highly with suicide. Five steps are proposed for reducing the use of isolation for confined youth. First, adopt a mission statement and philosophy that reflects rehabilitative goals. Second, develop policies and procedures for using and monitoring isolation. Third, collect and analyze data that will facilitate managing, monitoring, and ensuring accountability for the use of isolation. In addition, action steps are provided for CJCA (Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators) directors. CJCA holds that all jurisdictions should have a written policy that limits the use of isolation to situations that involve a serious threat by a youth to harm oneself or others; the authority that must approve its use; for what duration of time; and appropriate and adequate staff for monitoring isolated youth, combined with appropriate follow-up and review. In addition, the toolkit presents case studies from four State agencies that significantly reduced their use of isolation. The appendixes include a statement from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry on the use of isolation in juvenile confinement facilities.

Date Published: March 1, 2015