The New York City criminal justice system will no longer use solitary confinement in its prisons, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at his press conference on Tuesday.
The mayor referenced the tragic story of Kalief Browder, who died at the age of 22 after spending two years in Rikers Island in solitary confinement while waiting for his trial for stealing a backpack. The charges were eventually dismissed because the prosecutor could not form a substantial case against Browder.
“He should never have been in Rikers Island to begin with for having been accused of stealing a backpack. But imagine the pain he went through, the pain his family continues to go through. Imagine how much harm was done by all those years of unfettered use of solitary confinement,” de Blasio said, noting the case against Browder was dropped.
It’s called the Department of Correction for a reason,” de Blasio said. “It’s not about punishment, it’s about redemption…Working with our Board of Corrections, we’ve found a plan that will work, that will provide a safe environment for those who are incarcerated and officers alike, but will end the scourge of solitary confinement.”
The prison system will no longer use solitary confinement, with prisoners being able to spend ten hours outside of their cells, and socializing with at least one other person. The use of restraints will be discouraged.