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Advocates push to curb solitary confinement

Aug 19, 2015 12:04 am
Public News Service reports, "Prisoner advocates are asking state legislators to pass a bill that would dramatically alter the use of solitary confinement in New York prisons and jails. Last year, the state agreed to settle a lawsuit challenging solitary confinement, creating sentencing guidelines that include ending disciplinary confinement for inmates who are under age 18 or pregnant. Five Mualimm-ak, director of the Incarcerated Nation Corporation, says isolation is especially harmful to prisoners dealing with mental illness and substance abuse. "There are thousands and thousands of people in New York state suffering from these conditions," he says. "If we allow them to stay even one day in solitary, it's doing damage." The Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement, or HALT Act, would further restrict the use of extreme isolation and create therapeutic and rehabilitative options. The bill currently has 38 co-sponsors in the Assembly, and 12 in the Senate. International experts classify prolonged solitary confinement as a form of torture that can cause serious psychological harm. According to Mualimm-ak, who says he spent five years in solitary confinement, besides restricting the use of extreme isolation, the HALT Act could help make treatment available to those who need it – and he says there are many. "If you removed these vulnerable populations, it would be two-thirds, literally, freed up who are in solitary right now," he says. "That will at least reallocate funds to be able to address some of those issues." Thousands of inmates are being held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails, some for decades. Federal lawsuits challenging the practice are being litigated in at least three states." - See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-08-18/criminal-justice/advocates-push-for-legislation-to-curb-solitary-confinement/a47738-1#sthash.uAbBbU4G.dpuf
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