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Why juvenile solitary confinement still happens in Pa. despite federal and state bans

A picture of a photo taken by Richard Ross. August 16, 2016 Category: PurposeShort
President Barack Obama may have banned juvenile solitary confinement on a federal level earlier this year, but the antiquated method of corrections is still prevalent in some states.

That includes Pennsylvania, where state policy bans forms of juvenile solitary confinement like “seclusion” and enforces limits on “exclusion” — how long a child can remain in an enclosed area at a corrections facility by themselves. In Pa., that limit is four hours.

But that’s the problem: There are too many definitions and terms around juvenile solitary confinement that insinuate a divergence from the concept of “solitary confinement.”

“About 20 states have banned solitary confinement of children, but those bans take different forms,” said Juvenile Law Center cofounder Marsha Levick at a juvenile solitary panel last month. Other forms, she said, include terms like “isolation” and “time-out.”

At the end of the day, it all means the same thing.

The Philadelphia Inquirer took a look at what solitary confinement looks like in Philadelphia prisons. In 2015, the paper reports, juveniles at Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center were placed in “punitive segregation” (another form of solitary) 41 times, at an average of 32 days each.

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