New York Rolls Back Solitary Confinement

The most successful solitary confinement reform this year will release 1,000 prisoners.


Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last Wednesday that around a quarter of New York's 4,000 prisoners in solitary confinement will be moved out and into safer correctional facilities.

The reform is the outcome of a lawsuit brought on by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the state. After two years of negotiations other policy changes are being implemented to end inmate abuse by prison officials, such as stopping the practice of using food to discipline prisoners.

The state's correctional officers union, however, expressed concern for the safety of its 20,000 members, responding in a statement, "it is simply wrong to unilaterally take the tools away from law enforcement officers who face dangerous situations on a daily basis."

As Reason TV found out in "'For Their Own Protection': Children in Long-Term Solitary Confinement", the reclusive nature of prison systems makes reform extremely difficult and their use of solitary confinement isn't so judicious.

Sealed off from most public scrutiny, and steeped in an insular culture of unaccountability, prisons are, by their very nature, excellent places to keep secrets. Even more concealed are the solitary-confinement cells, described by inmates as "prisons within prisons."

Far from being limited to the most violent offenders, solitary confinement is now used against perpetrators of minor crimes and children who are forced to await their trials in total isolation. Often, these stays are prolonged, lasting months or even years at a time.

To learn more of solitary confinement's painful effects watch "'For Their Own Protection': Children in Long-Term Solitary Confinement" above or read the original article here.

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  1. The state’s correctional officers union, however, expressed concern for the safety of its 20,000 members, responding in a statement, “it is simply wrong to unilaterally take the tools away from law enforcement officers who face dangerous situations on a daily basis.”

    Translation: But we like torture people! It’s fun!

    1. Maybe the guards could be placed in solitary – for their own protection.

  2. Just as big a scandal is having 20k correctional officers.

    1. Well, upstaters need something to do.

      1. If New York City weren’t trying to bankrupt upstate at every turn….

        1. Oh, come on. Syracuse mayonnaise artisans deserve $15 an hour.

  3. “Visit a prison and you will see the worst that humanity has to offer. You will also see prisoners.” – Samuel Clemens

    1. Turns the phrase better than the Dostoevsky quote I was thinking about.

      1. Clemens was a master of the language. I don’t know of anyone as pithy and insightful. He was the perfect boor: the guy who perfectly captures and says out loud what everyone else is already thinking.

  4. Manslaughter charges for Missouri trooper in drowning death of hand-cuffed man.…..68195.html

    1. “They wanted to protect the governor and the merger and protect Piercy from criminal charges because criminal charges would be a black eye for the patrol.”

      Fuck these people.

      1. These people really believe that they’ve got to cover up the illegal activities of police officers because if they admitted fault then the public might lose trust in them. It never occurs to them that rooting out bad cops and throwing the book at them would gain more public trust than anything else.

        1. Then again if they rooted out bad cops, they wouldn’t have much of a force left.

    2. Second degree murder for these two shitbags. It is hard to see how they won’t go to prison.…../77117910/

      1. All they’ve got to do is request a bench trial, and the judge will find an excuse to acquit.

        1. That will be the end of that judge. The district judges here are elected and everyone in town knew that kid and that the cop was fucking his mom. I have asked around and people who know won’t be explicit but it looks like those two guys are cooked.

          1. It will be overturned on appeal because racism.

    3. But the trooper who blew the whistle is still out.

  5. Solitary confinement is mental punishment, pure and simple. We are social creatures; being deprived of any meaningful interactions with other humans will make a person go crazy. It should not be subjected to people without actual due process protections.

    I worked for an attorney who had a client in solitary confinement for months at a time “for his own protection”; every time I saw him, his mental health was clearly worse. It is atrocious that we can’t come up with someplace more humane to hold people “for their own protection” (I can understand using solitary confinement as a punishment).

    1. Except the other people you are having contact with are prisoners, some in jail for violent crimes.

  6. If someone needs to be held in physically solitary confinement for some safety reason, couldn’t they allow them to still communicate with others so they don’t go insane? Let them talk through a screen, or something like that?

  7. I’m sorry, but I think solitary is much preferable to being repeatedly raped by other prisoners.

    Call me crazy.

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