Public Advocate's Statement On The Passage Of The Halt Solitary Confinement Act

March 18th, 2021

Press Release

"I applaud the state legislators who have voted to HALT solitary, and extend my gratitude and congratulations to the advocates who have worked for years to bring us to this moment. I call on Governor Cuomo to immediately sign this legislation, despite his past refusal to enact similar reforms through executive authority.

"Solitary confinement is torture, and while this bill does not abolish it entirely, it will end prolonged solitary confinement and create more humane and effective alternatives, while still allowing true medical isolation. This year more than ever, New Yorkers should be empathetic to the negative physical and mental health impacts of social isolation, and the need to end it in our jails and prisons. Today marks a victory that will do real good for incarcerated individuals, a milestone in the movement to fundamentally shift our systems of injustice. 

"Now that HALT has passed on the state level, it becomes even more pressing to completely end solitary here in New York City - but the plan put forth this month by the Mayor toward this goal ignores or weakens several key recommendations from advocacy organizations long engaged in this work. While we push to revise and reshape this plan ahead of any potential implementation, it is also critical to amend and advance the pending Council legislation to abolish solitary confinement. We have a moral obligation to end solitary - which is torture for all and a death sentence for Layleen Polanco, Nicholas Feliciano, Kalief Browder, and too many others. And we have a governing obligation to end it not just in name, but in practice."

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