Apr 23, 2013 8:59 AM
AUSTIN - Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would restrict the use of solitary confinement in juvenile detention centers.
The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice is set to hear Senate Bill 1517 on Tuesday afternoon.
The proposal from Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio would restrict the practice to four hours. It would allow exceptions for cases of assault or attempted escape.
State records show youth offenders were put in solitary confinement in Texas juvenile centers more than 35,000 times last year.
Numerous independent studies have shown the practice can damage a developing mind. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says solitary confinement can cause extreme anxiety, depression and psychosis.
But state and county juvenile justice officials describe solitary confinement as an important disciplinary tool.