In his weekly video message, Attorney General Eric Holder called for expanded efforts to “curb the overreliance on seclusion of youth with disabilities.”
Holder’s remarks focused on the use of solitary confinement, a practice where people are held in isolation for as many as 23 hours per day.
“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 stated. “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.
“At a minimum, we must work to curb the overreliance on seclusion of youth with disabilities. And at the Department of Justice, we are committed to working with states to do this going forward.”
In March, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Youth Services regarding its solitary confinement practices. It also filed a statement of interest in February in an ongoing lawsuit challenging conditions at the Contra Costa County Juvenile Jail in California.
The video can be seen here.