State House passes bill banning solitary confinement for juveniles

AG Ferguson requested legislation

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s agency-request legislation to ban solitary confinement as a punitive practice for juveniles passed the state House of Representatives on Thursday, in a strong bipartisan vote of 76-20.

There is a growing national consensus that placing juveniles in solitary confinement is inhumane and does not improve behavior, according to a State Office of Attorney General news release. Studies have shown solitary confinement to be both emotionally and psychologically damaging for youth, as well as ineffective at improving behavior. Solitary confinement exacerbates stress and other mental health conditions, particularly for youth.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Reps. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, and Noel Frame, D-Seattle, spoke in favor of the bill on the floor. Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way, serves as the prime sponsor for the companion bill.

“We must reform our criminal justice system to reduce recidivism,” Ferguson said in the news release. “Doing away with practices that evidence shows do not work, and actually make it harder to rehabilitate youth, is common sense. I remain deeply appreciative of the diverse, bipartisan coalition that has come together to support this legislation.”

“Solitary confinement has no place in juvenile facilities,” Rep. Peterson said. “It traumatizes youth and hurts their ability to learn and grow into adults who are effectively re-integrated into society. I’m proud to have helped pass this bill.”

Ferguson’s legislation places restrictions on the use of room confinement and isolation in youth detention facilities, but it does not prohibit those tools. The legislation requires that the use of isolation and room confinement be limited to a period of no more than four hours, and only for the purpose of safety. Moreover, the bill requires institutions to document any use of isolation or room confinement.

Ferguson’s legislation applies to both county and state facilities.

Ferguson’s legislation is supported by several organizations, including the Washington Department of Children, Youth & Families, the American Civil Liberties Union, TeamChild, Columbia Legal Services and King County. Ten states, including California and Texas have passed similar laws.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

Amazon.com still has listings for medical equipment, but the website includes a caveat and other protections to ensure equipment is supplied to those who need it. Screenshot
Five businesses warned for price gouging

Ferguson sent cease and desist letters to five businesses, including one in Issaquah.

Inslee to state businesses: Pivot to make medical equipment

The governor said Wednesday that the state must become self-reliant in the fight against COVID-19.

King County domestic and sexual violence services available during COVID-19 outbreak

Advocacy organizations are adjusting their services to meet survivor needs

Enumclaw Rehab center a hotbed for coronavirus

Ten clients and two employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

County Council approves $2.2M for emergency childcare

For first responders and other essential workers during COVID-19 crisis

State legislators discussed COVID-19 impacts during a East King Chambers Coalition webinar on March 31 moderated by Kate Riley of The Seattle Times. Screenshot
State lawmakers discuss COVID-19 impacts with chambers

Four state lawmakers gathered for a webinar with the East King Chambers Coalition.

Retroactive unemployment payments ensure full benefits for eligible Washingtonians

State Employment Security Department commissioner releases details

Members of Puget Sound Fire who will be staffed at the first responder testing site in Covington received additional training last week. Photo courtesy of Capt. Joe Root
COVID-19 testing site for first responders to open in Covington this week

Testing is by appointment only and not open to the general public.

Most Read