How do young people experience confinement, and what are the consequences of being confined? These are the key questions we wish to address in this special issue. The confinement of young people is a contested issue and generally not given much attention. In most societies, only a small number of young people experience being confined. However, because confinement is one of the most intrusive forms of control and punishment, and often directed at young people in the most vulnerable life circumstances, it calls for academic scrutiny. Confinement, even for a short time and under lenient conditions, can have detrimental effects on young people’s well-being, health and development (Nowak, 2019). A global United Nations (UN) report assesses that 1.4 million minors are confined in pre-trial remand or sentenced, and a further 670,000 are deprived of liberty by social authorities (Nowak, 2019). Young people are confined in a range of institutions within criminal justice, child protection, immigration services and mental health care where deprivation of liberty is not reduced to confinement but includes isolation, control of communication and other measures restricting young people’s autonomy. This special issue explores how young people experience and make sense of various forms of confinement and conveys their perspectives on how it shapes their lives for better or worse.