Suit challenges solitary confinement in NY
Dec 10, 2012 12:05 am
Alysia Santo reports in the Times Union the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Thurs., Dec. 6, challenging the constitutionality of New York state's policies and procedures governing the use of solitary confinement. Prison watchdog groups have said the state's solitary confinement practices are some of the worst in the nation; between 2007 and 2011, New York prison officials imposed isolation punishment 70,000 times. The suit, filed on behalf of Leroy Peoples in the U.S. District Court, claims solitary confinement is employed as a "disciplinary tool of first resort,” often for non-violent infractions. Peoples spent 26 months in a room "the size of an elevator with another prisoner for 24 hours a day" as punishment for filing false legal documents. In 2005, Peoples spent six months in isolation for the unauthorized possession of multivitamins and amino acids in his cell, items which are available for purchase at the prison commissary. An NYCLU investigation found only 16 percent of isolation sentences imposed between 2007 and 2011 were for assault or weapons. New York prison officials regularly sentenced inmates to solitary confinement for minor violations, including "smoking in an undesignated area," "wasting food," "littering" and "untidy cell or person." Read the full story in the Times Union.