• Issues Related to the Incarceration and Detention of Minors

    The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) acknowledges that the incarceration and detention of minors has significant adverse health implications and contributes to health disparity. Juvenile incarceration correlates with poor health and a lower social functioning status across an individual’s lifetime. The AAFP maintains the following positions on juvenile incarceration and detention:

    • Minors should be tried and sentenced as minors, not as adults
    • Minors should not be held in adult jails, prisons, and detention facilities
    • Minors should not receive life sentences
    • Minors should not be subject to solitary confinement as a punitive measure, as it may cause significant negative health effects, including depression, anxiety, and self-harm behaviors
    • Minors should preferentially receive rehabilitative treatment and evidence-based programs for alternatives to incarceration such as Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC), Multisystemic Therapy (MST), and Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
    •  Minors should not be placed in settings that do not meet basic standards for their physical and mental health. They must have access to evidence-based comprehensive health care including behavioral health care, reproductive health care, dental care, and substance use disorder treatment
    • Minors must have access to age appropriate educational programming
    • Unaccompanied minors who are undocumented immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers should not be detained, and should have access to trauma informed pediatric care

    Family units in immigration and detention facilities should not be separated, and in particular, the minor children should not be taken away from parents/guardians. (July 2020 BOD)