Lonely Too Long: Redefining and Reforming Juvenile Solitary Confinement

By Jessica Lee

Solitary confinement is a frequently used penal tool in all fifty states against all types of offenders.  However, since its development in the 1800s, solitary confinement has been found to have damaging psychological effects.  Juvenile inmates in particular suffer the greatest psychological damage from solitary confinement because their brains are still in a developmental state.  This has led many to propose various reforms that would either end or limit the use of solitary confinement for those under the age of eighteen.  However, new neurological studies on brain development show that inmates between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five also suffer similar psychological harms and therefore should be included in these reforms.  Pulling from these new neurological studies, this Note proposes federal legislation that would limit the use of solitary confinement for inmates under the age of twenty-five.