The goal of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) is sweeping reform of New York’s use of solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation in state prisons and local jails.

Isolated confinement involves confining people in a cell for 22 to 24 hours a day without meaningful human contact, programming, or therapy. This practice is ineffective, counterproductive, unsafe, and inhumane, and it causes people detained in these conditions to deteriorate psychologically, physically, and socially. Despite these facts, New York utilizes isolated confinement at rates well above the national average.

Close to 4,000 men, women, and children are in isolated confinement in New York's state prisons.
About 1,000 people are in solitary confinement in New York City's jails.
Most of New York's isolation cells are smaller than a parking space.
Individuals can spend months, years, or decades in isolated confinement.
Solitary confinement in excess of 15 days is widely considered to be torture.

THE CAIC BLOG: NEWS AND VIEWS ON ISOLATED CONFINEMENT IN NEW YORK

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VOICES: Cycles of Despair

By Anthony Davis. Reprinted from Solitary Watch. The following essay was written by Anthony Lamar Davis, who has spent approximately six of his past eleven years in prison in solitary confinement in New York’s “Special Housing Units,” or SHUs. In 2008, New York passed a law restricting the use of solitary on people with serious […]

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NEWS: With Loved Ones in Prison, Women Become Leaders in the Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York

By Keri Blakinger. Reprinted from Solitary Watch. Jessica Casanova’s nephew wrote her a letter: “I”m here in a steel coffin. I’m breathing but I’m dead.” Casanova recounted, “I didn’t know what that meant so I got on a bus and I found out.” That was in 2012, and three years later, she’s still finding out. […]

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NEWS: Legislation Limiting Solitary Confinement in New York Gains Momentum

By Marco Poggio. Reprinted from Solitary Watch. A bill to significantly limit the use solitary confinement in New York state prison and local jails gained momentum last week, after nine Assembly members and two state senators agreed to support the legislation. The new sponsorships, secured after a day of lobbying that brought more than 120 […]

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VOICES: End the Torture of Solitary Confinement with the HALT Act

By Five Mualimm-ak. Reprinted from the Albany Times-Union. I am a survivor of 2,054 days of torture. And like many people who have endured such abuse, I suffer lasting psychological effects. I often experience memory loss and flashbacks. It’s sometimes hard for me to focus. I get upset and angry easily, and have abnormal reactions to […]

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NEWS: New York Advocates Offer Testimony to Assembly Hearings on Mental Health in Prisons and Jails

Several key supporters of CAIC presented or submitted testimony to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Corrections and Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, which held a joint hearing on “Public Hearing on Mental Illness in Correctional Settings” in Albany on November 13, 2014. A collection of testimony appears below, and will be permanently archived […]

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NEWS: New York Lawmakers Probe Care for Mentally Ill in Prison

By Michael Virtanen. Reprinted from the Associated Press.  The head of the troubled New York City jail system said Thursday it’s critical to send mentally ill inmates to treatment programs instead of a lockup. Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte told state lawmakers that Rikers Island is poorly equipped to be a mental health treatment […]

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VOICES: A Mouse and a Murderer

By William Blake. Reprinted from Solitary Watch. William Blake is in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in upstate New York. In 1987, while in county court on a drug charge, Blake, then 23, grabbed a gun from a sheriff’s deputy and, in a failed escape attempt, murdered one deputy and wounded another. He is […]

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NEWS: New York City Officials and Advocates Push for Change to the “Culture of Brutality” on Rikers Island

By Savannah Crowley. Excerpted from Solitary Watch. Update, 8/22/14:  On Thursday, August 21, the New York City Council passed legislation introduced by Councilman Danny Dromm of Queens that would require corrections officials to release quarterly reports documenting information about inmates being held in solitary confinement at Rikers Island jail. Presenting this information to the New York […]

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NEWS: Abuses at Rikers Island: Officials and Advocates Call for End to Solitary Confinement and Officer Violence

By Annie Wu. Excerpted from The Epoch Times. For Johnny Perez, the horrors of being placed in solitary confinement still remain fresh in his memory. More than 15 years ago, when Perez was a young teen, he was placed in solitary confinement for 60 days at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Rikers Island. “It’s […]

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