Solitary confinement of children

The issue of solitary confinement of children in prison will be raised in the High Court

An urgent challenge to a teenage boy’s ‘prolonged solitary confinement’ in a London prison will be heard in the High Court.

The boy, identified only as AB in court documents, has been locked up alone his cell for twenty-three housrs a day. According to the Howard League for Penal Reform, which has taken up his case, during the short periods out of his cell he has been permitted no contact with any other child.

The legal case for AB argues that his treatment is in breach of the United Nations’ Mandela Rules, which prohibit the use of solitary confinement for children.

The Howard League says that over the past two years its lawyers have supported at least six teenage boys under the age of eighteen who have been in conditions of solitary confinement for periods ranging from weeks to over six months.

A report by the Children’s Commissioner in 2015 exposed the widespread use of solitary confinement of children in prisons in England. It found that one-third of the children in prison will spend time in isolation and that the practice is used disproportionately in respect of children from ‘looked after and ethnic minority’ backgrounds.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: ‘Caging children for over twenty-two hours a day is unacceptable. All the evidence shows that it can cause irreparable damage. This practice must cease.’

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