criminal law; public policy; adolescents; incarceration; emerging adults


In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held that allegations of excessive use of force in pretrial detention are subject to an objective standard. However, it is unclear whether the objective standard extends to claims arising out of different factual circumstances. The Second Circuit’s recent decision in Darnell v. Pineiro to extend Kingsley v. Hendrickson to conditions-of- confinement cases provides hope. This Note argues that Kingsley should extend to solitary confinement litigation—particularly the isolation of emerging adults in pretrial detention. Solitary confinement is a widespread practice in the criminal justice system, but the implications of its use in pretrial detention have not been fully explored. Since its inception, solitary confinement has demonstrated adverse psychological and physiological effects. Emerging adults are most likely to be exposed to the practice and are more vulnerable to its effects. Incarcerated emerging adults who are held awaiting trial already experience a significant disruption in their social and emotional development. This Note draws from psychological scholarship, arguing that isolating emerging adults in pretrial detention causes irreparable harm to their well-being—harm so severe that it amounts to unconstitutional punishment. Finally, this Note proposes a solution to this mass problem: abolishing solitary confinement for emerging adults who are incarcerated pretrial.