NYAPRS Note: State legislators are considering passing the HALT solitary confinement reform bill today, as written. A central provision in the bill is an end to the use of ‘the Box’ for people with mental and physical disabilities, a provision that has not received the backing of the Cuomo Administration. Mental health advocacy has been a core element of the campaign, as evidenced by the letter referenced below. Person after person who gave personal testimony at the Capital yesterday spoke about the permanent mental damage inflicted by solitary. Any responsible official who has heard such testimony would heed the moral imperative to act. People with mental illnesses who need to be separated should be placed in more humane rehabilitative environments, as per the bill.
Any final agreement on HALT must include the ban for people with mental illnesses!
New York Mental Health Advocates Push For Solitary Confinement Rules
By David Klepper Associated Press June 18, 2019
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — One thousand mental health professionals and advocates from around New York state are signing on to a proposal to restrict the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails.
Those signing on to the letter to state leaders include social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals. The letter urges passage of legislation that would prohibit placing an inmate in isolation for more than 15 days.
Supporters say isolation can leave life-long psychological scars.
The bill hasn't been scheduled for a vote. Advocates say they're concerned it may not pass before lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn later this week.
Cuomo said Monday that he agrees changes are needed to ensure solitary confinement is humane, but he said he’s concerned the bill may require the construction of new prison facilities.