Dec. 14, 2020 by Allie Griffin
Jackson Heights Council Member Daniel Dromm introduced a bill last week that would end the use of solitary confinement in all New York City jails.
Under the bill, individuals would only be allowed to be isolated for the sole purpose of de-escalating violent conflicts and could only be isolated for no more than four hours.
The legislation would also require the Department of Correction to document all instances of isolation and de-escalation for public viewing.
Dromm’s bill would also guarantee that nearly every person detained in a city jail would get 14 hours of time outside their cell each day.
It also mandates free legal counsel for those placed in solitary confinement.
Dromm said the bill is ultimately about creating humane conditions for all people inside city jails.
“Solitary confinement is not just a violation of the basic human rights of the individual subjected to it,” he said in a statement. “It is a horrific practice whose negative impact reverberates throughout our entire society.”
He said that the practice often turns violent individuals more violent and affects the mental health of correction officers and other staff.
The legislation, Dromm said, is based on research conducted by criminal justice experts; feedback from criminal justice reform activists; and the opinion of many social service providers, medical professionals and others in government.
“History will not be kind to us if we turn back from the clarion call: Solitary confinement must end now…,” Dromm said. “It has no place in our city, no place in our state, and no place in our country.”
If passed, the ban on solitary confinement would go into effect 180 after becoming law.