Onondaga County jail faces class-action suit over teen solitary confinement

More than 80 teens, most of them of minority races, were held in solitary confinement at the Onondaga County Justice Center between October 2015 and August 2016.

News Story (New York)

Patrick Lohmann
Syracuse Post-Standard (NY)
September 21, 2016

Tags: Solitary Confinement

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services of Central New York


The lawsuit is filed on behalf of six 17-year-olds, identified by their initials, currently incarcerated at the Justice Center, including in solitary confinement. The lawsuit alleges the teens are being placed at risk of serious harm to their physical and mental health. The suit said teens in such isolation entertain thoughts of suicide and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.


Samuel Young, director of advocacy at Legal Services CNY, said at the news conference that criminal justice practices and law in Onondaga County are particularly harmful for 16- and 17-year-olds accused of crimes. That’s because New York hasn’t raised the age for suspects capable of being tried as adults and because juvenile solitary confinement has continued.

“Even the infamous Rikers Island has recognized that solitary confinement of juveniles must stop,” Young said. “One of the only places in the country where a 16- or 17- year-old child can find themselves in a solitary confinement cell …. is in our very own Onondaga County Justice Center.”