Prison officials still ignoring solitary confinement law
Chris Gelardi reports in New York Focus that not only are New York prison officials ignoring the recently passed Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act, which placed strict limits on prison isolation, but the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision recently updated regulations "re-enshrining DOCCS’s longstanding disregard of the law’s foundational tenets" according to the publication. After a recent story by New York Focus about how prisoners were still being put into solitary confinement, 52 state legislators sent a letter to New York’s prison department last week criticizing DOCCS for flouting the solitary confinement law. The lawmakers wrote, "We write with ongoing grave concerns that DOCCS not only continues to violate HALT but now is failing to remedy many deficiencies in its previous regulations that we and others pointed out and that are part of the reason these violations continue to occur." The legislators also complained that prisons were allowing staff to rescind incarcerated people’s visitation privileges as punishment for any infraction of prison rules, when, before, they could only revoke visitation over drug- or visitation-related offenses. “The vast restrictions on visits and packages are abusive for incarcerated people and their children and other family members,” the letter states. “They will also likely lead to increased tension, increased violence, increased drug use, increased suicide, and worsened safety for incarcerated people and staff.” A DOCCS spokesperson would only say that the department, “will review and respond to all comments through the state’s regulatory process at the appropriate time.” New York State Senator Julia Salazar said, “DOCCS seems to think it can make up its own rules.... It can’t. It must follow the law.” Read the full story in New York Focus.