Despite a growing consensus that solitary confinement harms youth and undermines the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system, the practice remains all too common. At the same time, the field lacks sufficient information on the prevalence of the practice, the alternatives, and the perspectives of affected youth and families. This report uses surveys of public defenders, conversations with youth and families, interviews with correctional administrators, and legal and psychological research to fill these gaps and set forth recommendations for reform.
Approximately one million youth appear in juvenile court each year. Costs, fees, fines, or restitution are imposed in every state. These financial penalties increase recidivism, push impoverished young people deeper into the juvenile justice system, exacerbate racial disparities in the juvenile justice system, and heighten economic and emotional distress for families already struggling financially.
Juvenile records follow youth well into adulthood and create barriers to employment and education. Protecting records is at the heart of the juvenile justice system’s aim to rehabilitate youth and yet, when unprotected, records punish youth indefinitely. In Future Interrupted, Juvenile Law Center urges that we allow children to grow up unfettered by their childhood mistakes—to have their court involvement remain in the past so they can move forward with their lives.