No Child Left Alone: Why Iowa Should Ban Juvenile Solitary Confinement

Author:Lisa C. Castillo
Position:J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2015; B.A., The University of Washington, 2012
Pages:1259-1284
SUMMARY

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that the mandatory imposition of life without parole on a juvenile offender was a violation of the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. In its rationale, the Court relied on scientific research, distinguishing the mental faculties between juveniles and adults and emphasized juveniles' ability to change. The... (see full summary)

 
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1259
No Child Left Alone: Why Iowa Should
Ban Juvenile Solitary Confinement
Lisa C. Castillo
ABSTRACT: In 2012, the United States Supreme Court held in Miller v.
Alabama that the mandatory imposition of life without parole on a juvenile
offender was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual
Punishment Clause. In its rationale, the Court relied on scientific research,
distinguishing the mental faculties between juveniles and adults and
emphasized juveniles’ ability to change. The Court has used scientific research
in a string of opinions over the last decade to reframe the goal of juvenile
sentencing reform—rehabilitation. In the interest of rehabilitation, states
should prohibit imposing solitary confinement on juvenile inmates. Solitary
confinement has cruel and unusual consequences for juveniles and serves no
penological purpose, making its use a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Thus, the Iowa Legislature should enact legislation prohibiting correctional
facilities from using juvenile solitary confinement, except for the limited
circumstance in which the facility can use no other measure to protect the
juvenile from immediately and substantially harming others. Even then,
confinement must follow strict guidelines to eliminate the risk of misuse and
psychological harm to juveniles. A system where facilities only use juvenile
solitary confinement to prevent an offender from committing immediate,
substantial harm to others is consistent with the goal of rehabilitation, the
trend in the Court’s decisions, a nd the Eighth Amendment.
J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2015; B.A. , The University of
Washington, 2012. Special thank you to Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud and Erin Moody for
helping plant the seeds of this Note and cultivating my interest in juvenile jurisprudence; to
Brianna Long, my Volume 99 Note and Comment Editor, for her tireless encouragement and
guidance throughout the Note-writing process; and to the Volume 100 editors and student
writers for their careful editing skills—most especially Amanda Beggs, Rosie Romano, and Ashley
Brosius. My Note would not have been what it is without their thoughtful contributions. All errors
are my own.
1260 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 100:1259
I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 1261
II. AN OVERVIEW OF JUVENILES IN THE AMERICAN JUSTICE
SYSTEM ........................................................................................ 1262
A. THE ENGLISH COMMON LAWS TREATMENT OF JUVENILES ...... 1263
B. THE DOCTRINE OF PARENS PATRIAE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
SEPARATE SYSTEM FOR JUVENILES .......................................... 1264
C. THE CHALLENGES TO THE JUVENILE COURT SYSTEM AND ITS
PHILOSOPHY OF REHABILITATION .......................................... 1266
III. INCORPORATING SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN JUVENILE JUSTICE .... 1267
A. THE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH DISTINGUISHING JUVENILES FROM
ADULTS ................................................................................ 1268
B. THE SUPREME COURTS ADOPTION OF THE SCIENTIFIC
RESEARCH............................................................................. 1268
1. Roper v. Simmons ........................................................... 1269
2. Graham v. Florida .......................................................... 1270
3. Miller v. Alabama .......................................................... 1272
IV. JUVENILE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT VIOLATES THE EIGHTH
AMENDMENT ............................................................................... 1273
A. JUVENILE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL .... 1274
B. JUVENILE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT SERVES NO PENOLOGICAL
PURPOSE ............................................................................... 1275
1. Punitive Solitary Confinement ................................... 1276
2. Protective Solitary Confinement ................................ 1276
3. Administrative Solitary Confinement ........................ 1277
4. Medical Solitary Confinement ................................... 1278
V. STATE RESPONSES TO THE ISSUES WITH JUVENILE SOLITARY
CONFINEMENT ............................................................................ 1279
VI. THE IOWA LEGISLATURE SHOULD ADOPT CALIFORNIAS PROPOSED
APPROACH TO JUVENILE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT ..................... 1281
VII. CONCLUSION .............................................................................. 1283

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