The use of punitive segregation for juveniles held in Philadelphia's adult jails will likely come under scrutiny at a City Council hearing in the near future.
Council members Kenyatta Johnson, Helen Gym and Curtis Jones plan to introduce a resolution Thursday calling for hearings on the treatment of young people under 18 years old, who are facing adult charges and are held at the city jails on State Road pretrial.
As the Inquirer reported Wednesday, teens in adult jails face isolation for a variety of reasons: in punitive segregation, which is more common among young inmates and can sometimes last for a month at a time; in a cell, alone, on a mental-health unit, where they may be given nothing but a "suicide smock" to wear; or as a matter of practical necessity, in the case of a teenage girl who was the only minor in all of Riverside Correctional Facility.
Johnson raised the issue at a City Council budget hearing on Tuesday, citing the Inquirer's coverage from last year and the story of Kalief Browder, the New York teen who took his own life after spending about two years in solitary at Rikers Island.
Still, last August, leaders at the Philadelphia Department of Prisons said they hoped to stop holding juveniles in segregation within three months. At the hearing, Carney said options under consideration to attain that goal include a program of goals and incentives, an initiative to increase out-of-cell time gradually, and the purchase of something called safety tables and safety chairs. Later, a spokesperson clarified those would involve some sort of restraints that would keep a young person seated.