NEWS: Coalition of State Lawmakers Urges New York to End Solitary Confinement

On November 9, more than 40 New York State legislators signed a strongly worded letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Corrections Commissioner Anthony Annucci to end the use of extended solitary confinement in the state’s prisons and local jails. “[W]e respectfully urge you to end the torture of long-term segregated confinement and replace it with more humane and effective alternatives,” the lawmakers write.

The letter cites a devastating report published in September by Disability Rights New York, which found rampant neglect and abuse, including extreme and prolonged isolation, of individuals with mental illness at Attica Correctional Facility.

The letter refers to the “severe and lasting psychological, physical and social damage” caused by solitary, and to “the systemic way in which solitary confinement is disproportionately inflicted on Black people in our state prisons.” It concludes that “Our prisons are in crisis and our constituents and communities—to which the vast majority of incarcerated people eventually return—are suffering as a result.”

The legislators who signed the letter are all co-sponsors of the Humane Alternative to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act, and cite the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement as its “grassroots partner” in working toward passage of the bill.

Until that happens, the lawmakers urge Cuomo and Annucci to voluntarily implement the HALT Act’s main provisions in the state prison system. “These provisions include prohibiting solitary confinement for especially vulnerable populations such as young people, the elderly, and people with mental illness and developmental disabilities; limiting solitary confinement to 15 consecutive days, or 20 days in any 60 day period, for all people; and ensuring that temporary separation in the interest of safety does not mean isolation by providing access to rehabilitative programs and meaningful human interaction.”

To read the full letter, click here.

You can also read the AP Story in the NY Daily News.

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