Photo of Eliza McDuffie

Eliza McDuffie

  • Hosted by Southern Center for Human Rights
  • Sponsored by Eversheds Sutherland, The Home Depot
  • Service location Atlanta , Georgia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Prisoners' Rights, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Eliza (she/her/hers) will work to stop the solitary confinement of children—particularly children of color—in Georgia’s adult prisons using strategic litigation and public education.

Georgia is one of the few states that continues to subject children to solitary confinement.  For kids incarcerated in Georgia’s adult prisons, solitary confinement is used both as a disciplinary sanction and for protection against bodily harm.  Children in solitary are kept in a cell the size of a parking space, receive food through a feeding slot, and must be strip-searched and handcuffed when allowed out of their cell.  This has devastating mental health effects and greatly increases the likelihood of recidivism.

In Georgia, this practice almost exclusively affects Black youth: Black teens make up around 80% of juveniles in Georgia’s prisons.  Black children in Georgia are thus not only more likely to be sent to adult prison but once there, they are subjected to a type of confinement that all but ensures long-term mental health problems and a return to the criminal legal system. Ending this practice is therefore critical to achieving racial justice in Georgia.

Eliza’s experience advocating for clients subjected to solitary confinement and her commitment to making Georgia better motivate her to fight against solitary confinement in its cruelest form—as applied to children, and disproportionately children of color.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Eliza will bring strategic litigation raising challenges to juvenile solitary confinement. She will also collect data and track Georgia’s use of solitary confinement for kids. Additionally, she will develop public education materials to increase awareness of this issue, such as op-eds.

Media

Eight from Harvard Law named Equal Justice Works Fellows

Ensuring that kids in adult prisons are not subjected to solitary confinement can greatly minimize the long-term negative impact of incarceration.

Eliza McDuffie /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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