New Illinois policy: No solitary to punish juvenile inmates

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CHICAGO (AP) – A federal judge in Chicago has approved new rules strictly barring juvenile detention centers in Illinois from using solitary confinement to punish detainees.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice negotiated that policy change in an ongoing class-action lawsuit. The ACLU alleges solitary confinement can seriously damage inmates’ mental health.

ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz said in a Monday statement “ending solitary confinement is a mark of a forward-thinking agency.” An agency spokesman didn’t have an immediate comment Sunday evening.

Court filings indicate Judge Matthew Kennelly gave his OK in late April. Court-appointed monitors will oversee implementation.

Solitary confinement will be permitted in some cases if detainees are deemed a threat to themselves or others. But they usually must be released after 24 hours.