WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder called for an end to "excessive" use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities on Wednesday, saying that the practice "can be dangerous, and a serious impediment to the ability of juveniles to succeed once released."
"At a minimum, we must work to curb the overreliance on seclusion of youth with disabilities," Holder said in a video message posted by the Justice Department.
DOJ has previously taken action against juvenile correctional facilities in Ohio and California, and Holder said the Justice Department has received reports "of young people who have been held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, often with no human interaction at all." In some cases, Holder said, "children were held in small rooms with windows that were barely the width of their own hands."
Holder called these episodes "all too common" and said such isolation practices were seen as appropriate in "far too many" juvenile detention centers around the country.
“Let me be clear, there may be times when it becomes necessary to remove a detained juvenile from others in order to protect staff, other inmates, or the juvenile himself from harm," Holder said. "However, this action should be taken only in a limited way where there is a valid reason to do so, and for a limited amount of time; isolated juveniles must be closely monitored, and every attempt must be made to continue educational and mental health programming while the youth is in isolation."