Legislation

SUMMARY OF THE HUMANE ALTERNATIVES TO LONG-TERM (HALT) SOLITARY CONFINEMENT ACT (A4401 / S2659)

 

(Click here for the full text of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act)

HALT’s Key Mechanisms for Challenging Isolated Confinement:

  • Creates Alternatives to Isolated Confinement: Any person separated from general population for more than 15 continuous days must be in a separate secure residential rehabilitation unit (RRU) – a rehabilitative and therapeutic unit aimed at providing additional programs, therapy, and support to address underlying needs and causes of behavior, with 6 hours per day of out-of-cell programming plus one hour of out-of-cell recreation.
  • Ends Long-Term Isolated Confinement: No person may be held in isolated confinement more than 15 consecutive days nor 20 days total in any 60 day period. At these limits, a person must be released or diverted to the alternative RRU with more out-of-cell time, programs, and therapy.
  • Restricts Criteria for Placement in Isolated Confinement or RRUs:
    • Emergency: Up to 24 hours if necessary to immediately diffuse a substantial and imminent threat.
    • Short Term: Up to 3 days for department rule violation if the penalty is proportionate to violation.
    • Extended: Up to 15 days or RRU for more serious acts of physical injury, forced sexual acts, extortion, coercion, inciting serious disturbance, procuring deadly weapons or dangerous contraband, or escape.
    • No person may be held in isolated confinement for purposes of protective custody, and the conditions in any protective custody unit must at least comply with the standards for RRUs.
    • Bans Special Populations from Isolated Confinement: The department can never place in isolated confinement any person: (A) 21 years or younger; (B) 55 years or older; (C) With a physical, mental, or medical disability; (D) Who is pregnant; or (E) Who is or is perceived to be LGBTI.

Key Procedural and Other Protections:

  • Enhances Due Process Protections Before Placement In Isolated Confinement or RRUs:
    • Assessment to determine if person is in special population must be conducted prior to placement.
    • Allows legal representation by pro bono attorneys, law students, or approved paralegals at hearings.
  • Creates Mechanisms for Release from RRUs:
    • There are multiple levels of review at various time intervals to determine if someone shall be released from an RRU: 30 days & every 60 days thereafter; & 100 days & every 120 days thereafter.
    • A person must be released if her or his disciplinary sentence runs out.
    • A person must also be released after one year unless specified exceptional circumstances and review by an independent outside agency.
  •  Covers all Categories of People Who Currently Face Isolated Confinement:
    • Types: disciplinary, administrative segregation; excludes medical/mental health isolation.
    • Jurisdiction: All prisons and jails in New York State.
    • Location: Special Housing Units (SHU), S-block, Keeplock, isolation beyond 17 hours.
  • Other Protections:
    • Training: Substantial relevant training for all staff on units and hearing officers.
    • Reporting: Public reports on number/categories of people in isolation and RRUs, and length of stay.
    • Outside Oversight: Justice Center & State Commission of Correction assess implementation.
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