College of Arts and Sciences


Public Affairs

Faculty Mentor

Kevin Ward


Throughout the United States, the practice of isolating and confining youth for hours at a time is commonplace in juvenile facilities. The use of isolation in Washington State’s juvenile system is no exception. Washington recently acknowledged the dangers of juvenile solitary confinement but continues to utilize the similar practices of isolation and room confinement today. Isolation and confinement require further examination as they can cause significant harm to a youth’s social, physical, and educational development, increase youth aggression, and increase recidivism rates. Washington should reconsider whether to permit such a damaging punishment in a system purportedly committed to the rehabilitation of children. This paper initiates the conversation by thoroughly examining the current state of juvenile isolation and room confinement in Washington and proposing three potential alternative approaches to the practice. Each alternative approach is individually evaluated before final recommendations are provided.