NYC to End Solitary Confinement

NEW YORK -
New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

New York City jails will no longer place prisoners in solitary confinement, after the New York City Board of Correction, an independent oversight board for the city’s jail system, voted unanimously to ban the practice.

“New York City is going further than any jail system in America to ban solitary confinement once and for all,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “Through our work with our Board of Correction, we have found a plan that will provide a safe and humane environment for those who are incarcerated and officers alike.”

New York City previously ended solitary confinement for prisoners under age 22 and prisoners suffering from mental illness in 2015.

The new disciplinary system will allow prisoners at least 10 hours spent out of their cells and interacting with at least one other person. Additionally, prisoners will have an attorney present at infraction hearings. and throughout the process.

The new model, the Risk Management Accountability System (RMAS) includes a focus on individualized behavior plans, daily programming including therapeutic programming, and allow prisoners daily access to health staff. The system will go into effect in Fall 2021.

“Solitary confinement corrodes the human soul and creates immense mental health challenges, when we’re supposed to be in fact rehabilitating people and preparing them to reenter society and live a peaceful life. It literally is counterproductive. It makes us less safe, not more safe,” said de Blasio in a media interview. “So, we made the decision that it was time to end solitary confinement in our jails once and for all. And we really believe this is ultimately how we can better rehabilitate people and have a safer city in the future.”

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smarcus@hamodia.com