Contra Costa County to End Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

LA Times–  “In preliminary legal settlements announced Tuesday, Contra Costa County’s probation department has agreed to end the practice of solitary confinement for youths in juvenile hall, while the county’s office of education will guarantee appropriate services for all youths with disabilities.

The coordinated settlements come in the wake of increased national focus on the damaging nature of solitary confinement for young people — a practice that former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. had pressed to end.

The resolution was announced by Berkeley-based Disability Rights Advocates and Los Angeles-based Public Counsel — the two nonprofit legal organizations that filed suit in 2013 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Contra Costa County youth.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education last year filed statements of interest in the case, saying their authority and expertise should be considered.

The suit alleged that youths with psychiatric and developmental disabilities were routinely locked in narrow cells for up to 23 hours per day and deprived of education, including special education guaranteed to them under federal law.

“In Contra Costa County, the draconian practice of solitary confinement will come to an end and the focus will be, as it should, on education and rehabilitation,” Mary-Lee Smith, managing attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, said in a statement. “Our hope is that other facilities across the nation will follow suit.” Full Article on LA Times

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