They demand the approval of a municipal law that puts an end to solitary confinement that affects the physical and mental health of inmates in NYC
The solitary confinement of inmates in prisons of New York City, as Rikers Island, has been the reason for conflicting positions between authorities who defend its use and defenders of inmates who consider the solitary confinement as a flagrant violation of human rights, which is useless in the processes of resocialization of the prison community.
And while Albany has passed measures that seek improve the treatment received by inmates In New York prisons, complaints about the extreme use of solitary confinement as a measure of punishment in prisons continue to emerge, for which reason former inmates, activists and relatives of prisoners demand an immediate end to these practices.
For this reason, they are calling on the city Council to pass a bill that would end solitary confinement, and no more violate basic health and safety standards, while demanding that no more people be sent to Rikers prison units, considered dangerous.
The outcry was presented as a preamble to a meeting of the prison supervision body of the Big Apple Board of Corrections (DOC)where they also insisted on the release of the inmates.
The demonstration comes after the DOC will present a proposal that would nullify the minimum standard of 14 hours out of cell per day in New York prisons, a measure that did not have the endorsement of the Board. The fear is that the Department of Corrections will go ahead with their plan.
Johnny Perez, director of the US Prison Program’s National Religious Campaign Against Torture urged city legislators to move forward on the passage of the law guaranteeing an end to solitary confinement, stressing that the DOC cannot be allowed to change arbitrarily rules that have been around for years, such as the hours in which inmates can be out of their cells.
“When someone dies, they are under DOC surveillance.. The Department of Corrections has the audacity to violate a 44-year standard after 16 people have died this year alone,” criticized the activist. “We are asking for basic human rights. We want people to be on the right side of justice. How is that done?, approving Intro 549 to end the isolation regime. Enough talk, we need action.”
Solomon Acevedospokesperson for the Ombudsman Jumaane Williamsurged the City Council to move forward and give free rein to the piece of legislation.
“We need now approve Intro 549 to end solitary confinement. We cannot allow the setback of the minimum basic health and safety standards”, highlighted the defender.
Michelle Feldmanfrom Women’s Community Justice Associationassured that imprisonment and even worse, practices such as solitary confinement do not help inmates, who, he said, are denied basic rights such as access to health.
“They don’t deserve to be locked in a cellthat’s not the way we heal people,” said the activist, recalling the death in prison of Mary Yehuda, 31 years oldlast May, who did not receive the support he required.
“She should never have died.. She had diabetes that was never detected. She easily she could have gotten medicine. But she failed him. She deserved to be here,” Feldman said. “Women suffer the worst effects of loneliness. They come with a lot of trauma. They deserve better. deserve attention“.