Judge OKs Plan to Reduce NY Solitary Confinement

NEW YORK (AP) -

A federal judge approved a sweeping plan to reduce solitary confinement in New York state prisons Thursday, saying she hopes the deal to end decades-old practices becomes a model for other states confronting the harmful effects of extreme isolation.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said the “historic settlement” will greatly reduce the frequency, duration and severity of solitary confinement for thousands of prisoners, making conditions “more humane and more just.”

Reforms include time limits in solitary for various offenses, better training of guards, alternative programs to isolation and more opportunities for inmates in solitary to have time there reduced.

Asked about the finalized deal, a spokesman for the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association referred questions to a December statement from the union calling it “simply wrong to unilaterally take the tools away from law enforcement officers” working dangerous jobs.