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Restricted housing among juvenile populations – the social and physical isolation of certain youth from other juveniles, recreational time, and educational materials – is a punitive method employed by juvenile correctional facilities that restricts youths’ physical movement for a prolonged period of time. Nebraska houses the third highest per capita number of juveniles residing in detention, correctional, or residential facilities in the United States, and many facilities across the state report using restricted housing for much longer period than surrounding states. Due to their age and associated developmental needs (e.g., brain development, social interactions, etc.), juveniles are at higher risk for experiencing negative effects of restricted housing, such as psychosis, suicidal ideation/attempts, depression, and anxiety. Further, the use of isolation may exacerbate existing mental and emotional problems among juveniles. Restricted housing is strongly linked to suicide attempts, in situations where juveniles are unattended and unmonitored. Moreover, juveniles in restricted housing are unable to access positive and prosocial activities or educational programming, and are thus “doubly punished” while in isolation. Due to the negative effects of restricted housing among juveniles, NCJR recommends the adoption of best practice standards for the use of restricted housing for juveniles in NDCS: 1) use restricted housing only as a temporary response to behavior that threatens immediate harm to the youth or others, 2) limit the time juveniles spend in restricted housing, and monitor them every 15 minutes, 3) prior to using restricted housing, staff should use less restrictive techniques and rehabilitative efforts, 4) explain the reasons for isolation to juveniles and the fact that they will be released upon regaining self-control, 5) assess youth at intake for mental health, suicide, or other risk factors that may be exacerbated by the use of restricted housing, 6) keep designated restricted housing areas suicide resistant and protrusion-free, 7) and better understand the unique developmental needs of juveniles so as to minimize the employment of tactics (such as restricted housing) that can negatively affect healthy development.



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