Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Sandy McKeown

Second Advisor

Thomas Horton

Third Advisor

Wendy Hess


juvenile, solitary confinement, eighth amendment, cruel, unusual, punishment

Subject Categories

Constitutional Law | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Juvenile Law


This literature review examines the practice of juvenile solitary confinement, applies the United States Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, argues that the practice should be declared unconstitutional as a violation of the Eighth Amendment, and calls for a categorical ban. The Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment states, “nor [shall] cruel and unusual punishments [be] inflicted.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Juvenile solitary confinement is cruel and unusual, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, because juveniles are different. The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that juveniles should not be held to the same standards of accountability or degrees of punishment as adults. Additionally, the practice of juvenile solitary confinement itself is different and, consequently, cruel and unusual. Solitary confinement imposes severe psychological, physical, social, and developmental harm. When imposed on juveniles, these effects are conceivably permanent. An application of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence to juveniles’ solitary confinement clearly illustrates that the Supreme Court should declare the practice unconstitutional as a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Therefore, following Supreme Court precedent, a categorical ban against juvenile solitary confinement is the appropriate remedy for this constitutional violation.



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