Jail pun­ish­ment curb

No soli­tary for those with health woes: city

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY MICHAEL GARTLAND AND CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS

New York City or­dered Mon­day its jails to end the use of soli­tary con­fine­ment to pun­ish some in­mates as part of a broader push to end the prac­tice al­to­gether.

Soli­tary con­fine­ment — known in jails as puni­tive seg­re­ga­tion — will no longer be used when an in­mate has un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tions, like asthma, heart dis­ease and lung dis­ease, among other ailments. That or­der will go into ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

Mayor de Bla­sio said ul­ti­mately the goal is to end all soli­tary con­fine­ment and an­nounced he is cre­at­ing a panel to over­see that process.

“We need to make changes im­me­di­ately in how peo­ple who are in­car­cer­ated in our jail sys­tem are han­dled, and we need to make sure they are safe,” de Bla­sio said.

Board of Cor­rec­tion Vice Chair­man Stan­ley Richards will lead the panel, which will also in­clude Cor­rec­tion Com­mis­sioner Cyn­thia Brann and JustLead­er­shipUSA Pres­i­dent and CEO DeAnna Hoskins.

“Our charge is to come back with a plan to end soli­tary con­fine­ment. … Our con­ver­sa­tions will not be should we [end it] but how do we end it,” Richards told the Daily News.

City Hall also invited Cor­rec­tion Of­fi­cers’ Benev­o­lent As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Benny Boscio to join the panel. Boscio was elected Satur­day to be­come the new union boss. He has not said whether he will ac­cept the of­fer, sources said.

The ini­tia­tive comes just days af­ter the city an­nounced it would dis­ci­pline 17 uni­formed staffers in the death of Layleen

Polanco (inset) — a trans­geng der woman who died in June 2019 af­ter hav­ing an epilep­tic seizure while in soli­tary con­fine­ment at Rik­ers Is­land.

The city first elim­i­nated soli­tary con­fine­ment for in­mates be­tween ages 16 and 21 af­ter the death of Kalief Bow­der, who com­mit­ted sui­cide in 2015 af­ter spend­ing nearly two years in an iso­lated cell while jailed at Rik­ers.

But Polanco’s death brought re­newed calls from crim­i­nal jus­tice ad­vo­cates to end the in­car­cer­a­tion prac­tice used in the city jails for years — and pres­sure from City Coun­cil Speaker Corey John­son (DMan­hat­tan) and Coun­cil­man Keith Pow­ers (D-Man­hat­tan) to end the prac­tice.

“To­day’s task force for­ma­tion is a wel­come step for­ward for those who have long fought to end a prac­tice that is in­hu­mane, abu­sive and con­demned by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” said Pow­ers, chair­man of the Coun­cil’s Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Com­mit­tee.

While some crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form ad­vo­cates praised de Bla­sio’s move, oth­ers de­scribed it as “too lit­tle, too late.”

“The med­i­cal con­di­tions that make soli­tary con­fine­ment ex­cep­tion­ally dan­ger­ous were known long be­fore Layleen Polanco’s death, and she might still be with her fam­ily and chosen fam­ily to­day had the city acted on that knowl­edge ear­lier,” the Le­gal Aid So­ci­ety said.

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