NEW YORK — The New York State Assembly approved the Humane Alternatives to Solitary Confinement Act (S2836) Tuesday, which limits and restricts solitary confinement in New York’s correctional facilities. The bill, known as the HALT Act, is expected to pass the New York State Senate this week. JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement:
“We applaud the state Assembly for passing the HALT Act. This bill will bring New York’s correctional facilities one step closer to our common values of human dignity, respect and fair treatment. The bill bans solitary confinement for more than 15 days, provides therapy, treatment, and rehabilitative units for those released from solitary. It also bans the use for people 21 years or younger, 55 years or older, pregnant individuals and incarcerated people with a serious mental illness. In addition, the bill requires six hours of out-of-cell programming plus one hour of out-of-cell recreation per day, and public reporting of who is in isolation, in rehabilitation units, and for how long.
“While these are great starting points, we must do better. Overhauling the policies of the wide range of violations that can lead to solitary confinement is imperative. As formerly incarcerated people, we know all too well how an accusation, or even a low-level violation, can result in a trip to solitary confinement.
“Let’s be clear: the unrestricted use of solitary confinement still robs our incarcerated brothers and sisters of their humanity and should be used only as a last resort. The research is clear that prolonged disconnect from human interaction, well as sight and sound, have devastating impacts on a person’s mental health. Contained in JLUSA’s 2021 Roadmap are bold, substantive recommendations to change our country’s policies — including abolishing solitary confinement on the federal level.
Solitary confinement degrades and dehumanizes incarcerated people. As many as 62,500 people — disproportionately Black and brown — are trapped in solitary in state and federal correctional facilities, with virtually no external stimuli or opportunities to interact with others. We must abolish solitary confinement, and adopt alternatives that address behavior in a rehabilitative environment. We MUST stop our overly punitive response to behavior that may have underlying causes.
“We urge the New York Senate to pass the HALT Act immediately, and we look forward to continuing to make much-needed progress to end the inhumane, discriminatory, and all-too-common practice of solitary confinement.”