Advocates, COs weigh in on the solitary ban argument

The use of solitary confinement in jails and jails has been documented as a “harmful practice” with lasting psychological effects on those incarcerated. Though New York state law technically prohibits its use, there’s still a heated argument for and against solitary confinement in the city — with the mayor and correctional officers on one side and city council members standing with the attorneys on the other .

Mayor Eric Adams, known for his police background, made his stance on the use of solitary confinement or segregation (PSEG) particularly clear even before he took office. He vowed to reverse the De Blasio-era move to end solitary confinement in response to violent offenders and a spike in prison crime, the reported New York Postmuch to the disappointment of the council members.

The legislative clash between progressive councilors and a “law & order” mayor has undoubtedly continued. The current bill, Intro 549, sponsored by public advocate Jumaane Williams, has the support of 35 council members.

City Council spokeswoman Adrienne Adams was particularly vocal about solitary confinement before a hearing of the committee on the legislation and prohibition last week on Monday, September 12. She said the Department of Corrections’ (DOCs) job is to provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals so they can eventually return to society.

“Solitary confinement falls short of that goal, and New York City needs to be smarter by relying on evidence-based practices to keep New Yorkers and our neighborhoods safe,” spokesman Adams said in an opinion. “The research is unequivocal: solitary confinement is a counterproductive and harmful practice that causes immense damage to the health of those affected. It disproportionately leads to suicide and worsens the mental health of those affected.”

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Councilor Tiffany Cabán acknowledged the clear “friction” between them and the mayor over the matter. Cabán said she is visiting Rikers Island unannounced to investigate conditions and fully supports the ban. She said PSEG is essentially the same as loners. She’s proud of the supermajority on the council, which is likely to overrule Mayor Adams.

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