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NYC City Council Bans Solitary Confinement in Local Prisons

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Mayor Eric Adams opposed the bill, but the NYC Council passed it to end jail solitary confinement. Democrat Mayor Adams urged the council to reject the idea, claiming it would endanger inmates and personnel. The bill received overwhelming support and may survive a mayoral veto.

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New York City Council Restricts Solitary Confinement in Jails Amidst Controversy

The regulation limits “de-escalation” units to four hours of isolating dangerous offenders. Long-term restrictive housing is only for violent offenders who must leave their cells for 14 hours a day and watch the same programs.

The bill was filed by NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to address concerns that protracted solitary confinement is torture. Williams stated cramped jail cells promote suicide, violence, and overdose risk. According to research, even a few days in solitary can produce acute anxiety, depression, psychosis, and other disorders that hinder reintegration following release.

The bill’s passage comes as Rikers Island, New York’s notorious jail complex, faces federal violence reduction efforts. The city faces California’s vetoed segregation ban and the complex’s closure. The death of 16-year-old Kalief Browder, who spent three years at Rikers, half of them in solitary, garnered national attention. After being freed without a trial, Browder committed suicide at 22, revolutionizing solitary for 16- and 17-year-olds.

READ ALSO: Man imprisoned as teen for flower shop killing is released after judge throws out conviction

New York City Council’s Decision on Solitary Confinement Sparks Debate and Mayor’s Review

The local Board of Correction recently limited de-escalation confinement to six hours, but this measure challenges that. City Council members and the mayor were urged to support the measure by the Columbia University Center for Justice, which documented days-long detentions. Mayor Adams said his legal staff was reviewing the legislation following the vote, leaving him undecided. He claimed a hearing before solitary detention violated due process.

The Common Sense Caucus and Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, which represents jail staff, opposed the bill, citing the tool’s safety. Mayor Adams opposed a council proposal to mandate more reporting on police investigative stops, which might reduce response times.

READ ALSO: New York City Council approves bill banning solitary confinement in city jails


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