Isolated and scared: The plight of juveniles locked up during the coronavirus pandemic

Kristine Phillips, USA Today •

Arjanae Avula talks to her younger brother twice a week. Phone calls last about three minutes before they’re cut off. During their last conversation, she said, he was crying. 

“When am I going to get out of here? ... Do you know anything? Can you talk to anybody?” Avula recalled him asking.

Her 18-year-old brother is at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, a coronavirus hot spot near Richmond, Virginia, where 26 youths and 10 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Youths at Bon Air have been locked in cells no bigger than a bathroom for 23 hours a day, families and attorneys said. They’re allowed one hour to either shower, brush their teeth or call home. Classes have been canceled, and they have little to no human interactions. 

About the Expert

Marsha Levick co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women's rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law.