Ohio has taken a major step in curbing the use of solitary confinement for a group of people who don't need to be there: juveniles.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Ohio's Department of Youth Services has reached a settlement with the federal government to "dramatically reduce, and eventually eliminate" the use of isolation for young inmates. The settlement stems from a 2007 Justice Department investigation that found Ohio's youth prisons frequently use long-term solitary confinement, especially for prisoners with mental illness.
Over the last fifteen years, states have come under increasing pressure to restrict or abolish the practice of what is euphemistically called 'disciplinary seclusion.' The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, recent pressure from Attorney General Eric Holder, devastating reports from the American Civil Liberties Union, and a congressional hearing called by senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) have brought much-needed attention to an issue that remains behind prison walls, obscured from public view.
Ohio joins seven other states – Maine, Connecticut, West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Alaska – restricting the use of solitary confinement for inmates under the age of 18.
As this 2013 ReasonTV investigation shows, tens of thousands of juveniles end up in solitary confinement every year, not as punishment, but "for their own protection." A practice that was once reserved for the most violent inmates has become a routine approach to inmate security in correctional facilities that house juveniles together with adults.