Solitary Confinement in Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System: A Damning Audit Reveals Alarming Inconsistencies
a crowd of children behind bars

On Friday, July 7, a shocking report released by Georgia’s Department of Audits and Accounts shed light on the distressing issue of solitary confinement within the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The audit exposed glaring inconsistencies, highlighting how and for how long young individuals are subjected to isolation across various facilities. The findings, which have raised significant concerns among experts and advocates, underscore the urgent need for reform in the treatment of incarcerated youth. Let’s delve deeper into the audit’s revelations and their implications.

According to the report, the DJJ lacks any stipulated time limit for confining a dangerous incarcerated child to isolation. This lack of regulation has paved the way for an alarming increase in the average duration of solitary confinement in the highest-security DJJ facilities. Between 2018 and 2022, the average period of isolation skyrocketed nearly fourfold to approximately 13 days.

The audit further exposed instances where children were subjected to solitary confinement for over a month, a deeply concerning violation of their rights and well-being. Moreover, one facility resorted to isolating every child on weekends due to staffing shortages, a distressing practice that has since led to the dismissal of the facility’s director.

Mental Health Implications and Expert Warnings:
Solitary confinement has long been associated with severe psychological consequences, especially for young individuals whose brains are still developing. Experts caution that prolonged isolation can contribute to mental health issues ranging from depression to psychosis. The lack of human contact, limited stimulation, and extreme social deprivation inherent in solitary confinement can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and even lead to the emergence of new ones.

Recommendations for Reform:
The audit’s findings have prompted urgent calls for reform within Georgia’s DJJ. Foremost among the auditor’s recommendations is the implementation of a time limit on the duration of solitary confinement. Establishing clear guidelines would help prevent the potential deterioration of mental health among incarcerated youth, ensuring they receive the treatment and support necessary for their rehabilitation.

Source: Georgia Today Podcast