Solitary confinement

New York City Enters Settlement With Feds Over Rikers Island Brutality

New York City and the Department of Justice settled a 2012 class action lawsuit this week brought by the Legal Aid Society (Nunez v City of New York), alleging rampant inmate abuse on Rikers Island. The Nunez lawsuit is just one of many to have detailed the horrific conditions facing inmates in NYC jails and underscores the pervasive brutality and impunity with which the city’s corrections officers have traditionally operated. In December of last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio’s [Continue reading]

Against Reform: Beyond Rikers Island

There are a couple of things I want to say about the 10 reform bills proposed in the NYC Council this week targeting the Department of Corrections. First, as I mentioned in my rundown, even if these bills pass, they will be meaningless without rigorous enforcement and oversight by the council. Much of the problem here is not that the city lacks regulations over its jails — it’s that the Department of Corrections seems to follow its own rules and break theirs with impunity. For [Continue reading]

Report: Rikers Island Health Staff Shouldn’t Participate in Solitary Confinement Placement Process

The Associated Press got a sneak preview of a new study that found the medical ethics of healthcare workers on Rikers Island are seriously compromised — especially when they are involved in placing inmates in solitary confinement: The two-year study at New York’s sprawling Rikers Island jail complex concluded with a bold recommendation to remove health workers entirely from the most contentious issue they face — whether to put an inmate in solitary. That’s because many [Continue reading]

Undocumented mothers put in solitary after 78 launch hunger strike at private prison

Last week, seventy-eight incarcerated mothers at GEO Group’s Karnes County Detention Center in Texas signed a letter announcing a hunger and work strike and to demand their immediate release. Now Roque Planas at the Huffington Post is reporting that some of those mothers were put in solitary confinement with their children in response to the protest. Aura Bogado obtained the prisoners’ letter for Colorlines.com, and writes that “most have brought their children from Guatemala [Continue reading]

New solitary confinement unit plagued by old problems on Rikers Island

At the beginning of March, New York City’s Board of Correction released a preliminary report on Rikers Island’s controversial new isolation facility, the Enhanced Supervision Housing Unit (ESHU). The $14.8 million ESHU was proposed to house 250 of Rikers’ so-called “most dangerous” inmates– a small minority of the prison population that officials claim is responsible for the majority of inmate violence. Amid federal, state and municipal investigations and a [Continue reading]

Montana legislature debuts bill prohibiting solitary confinement for minors, seriously mentally ill

A bill introduced in the Montana House of Representatives this week would curb the use of isolation in state prisons. The Montana Solitary Confinement Reform Act (or House Bill 490) was introduced by Democrat Jenny Eck and would ban solitary confinement for people under the age of 18 and those with severe mental illness. It would also introduce due process and appeal measures for inmates facing solitary and require weekly mental health evaluations for isolated inmates. Over much of the past [Continue reading]

New wrongful death lawsuit raises more questions about coming Rikers Island reforms

On February 11th, the Associated Press reported that the mother of deceased Rikers Island inmate Quannell Offley was suing New York City for her son’s wrongful death. The lawsuit is one of many facing the city over Rikers Island and comes after months of reports detailing abuse and neglect by the city’s prison staff. According to the lawsuit, Offley told prison guards on multiple occasions that he wanted to kill himself after being placed in solitary confinement. His final threat [Continue reading]

In New York City, ending youth solitary confinement comes with a complicated price tag

Under Mayor de Blasio’s new preliminary budget, 282 correction officers would be brought on to oversee New York City’s juvenile prisoners as funding for staff and alternative programming doubles to $25.3 million in 2016 — the year NYC is scheduled to end solitary confinement for 18-21 year olds. The mayor’s proposal, which arrives amid a federal lawsuit and several bombshell investigations concerning conditions in the city’s jails, also includes: Funding [Continue reading]

Report: Corizon’s “flagrantly inadequate, substandard and dangerous” care killed Rikers prisoner Bradley Ballard

The New York State Commission on Correction released a new report this week, detailing the findings from its investigation into the horrific and preventable death of mentally ill black inmate, Bradley Ballard. Ballard was left in his cell for six days straight in September, 2013. Guards shut the water off to his cell for over four days, and not once during that time was he treated for his schizophrenia and diabetes. On the rare occasion that he was seen by a medical worker, their talks [Continue reading]

NYC’s new rules for solitary are not the reforms we’ve been looking for

Would NYC’s new rules for solitary confinement have saved the life of 19-year-old Andy Henriquez? Henriquez was brought to Rikers Island when he was only 16. Three years later, he was still awaiting trial when he was placed in isolation. Henriquez had complained of chest pains for seven months before being thrown in ‘the bing,’ but no one at the prison took him seriously. Health and correction staff ignored Henriquez’ increasingly-dire calls for help, to the [Continue reading]
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