The New York Civil Liberties Union and Legal Services of Central New York announced a settlement with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office today that ends the routine practice of 23-hour-a-day isolation of juveniles at the Justice Center jail in Syracuse. The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed by the NYCLU and LSCNY last year.
Children aged 16 and 17, many of whom have mental illnesses, had been kept in solitary confinement for months at a time. Many children exhibited symptoms of suicidal thinking, and jail officials deliberately ignored warnings about children’s vulnerabilities, returning juveniles to solitary even after being placed on suicide watch for brief periods. Solitary confinement can cause psychosis, trauma, depression and self-harm.