End Extreme Isolation in New York
Each year, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) sentences thousands upon thousands of prisoners to spend months, and even years, in Special Housing Units (SHU), where they are subject to extreme forms of isolation and deprivation. For more details about the scope of the problem in New York, visit http://www.nyclu.org/BoxedIn to access the NYCLU's new report "Boxed In: The True Cost of Extreme Isolation in New York's Prisons."
In October 2012, we partnered with other organizations for several advocacy events, including a town hall discussion about isolation with New York state legislators on October 4, 2012. We need to continue pressing this issue with New York policymakers.
The Backstory and Current State Campaign Information
The Governor of New York signed bill A09342 into law in 2008. The law requires that the Department of Corrections remove prisoners with serious mental illness from solitary confinement whenever possible and establishes mental health treatment units for the care of such prisoners. The Department must provide documentation when a prisoner with serious mental illness is kept in solitary confinement, explaining the security or other concerns preventing the release of such prisoners from solitary confinement. Additionally, such prisoners must be treated with a heightened standard of care and be periodically reassessed to determine whether a less restrictive setting may be appropriate. Recognizing that there is still much work to be done since the legislative victory in 2008, the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) has formed in New York. NRCAT is proud to be a member and partner in the CAIC, a state-wide campaign of organizations and concerned community members, including formerly incarcerated persons and family members of loved ones in isolated confinement. CAIC is engaged in public education and community outreach in order to organize support for an end to solitary confinement. For the latest on the CAIC’s efforts in New York, visit www.nycaic.org
- April 16, 2013. All were invited to join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the New York State Council of Churches, New York Civil Liberties Union, Correctional Association, and Prisoners' Legal Services for a screening of the new documentary film Herman's House, followed by a panel discussion about solitary confinement. The event included a full scale model of a solitary confinement cell. Read more about the documentary and event here.
Links to news stories covering the use of solitary confinement in New York and developments in reforming the practice are available here.