NYC to Ban Solitary for Inmates Under 22

Move marks major 'innovation': activist
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2015 11:47 AM CST
NYC to Ban Solitary for Inmates Under 22
This June 20, 2014, file photo shows the Rikers Island jail with the New York skyline in the background.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(Newser) – New York City's Board of Correction has unanimously voted to end the practice of solitary confinement for inmates age 21 and younger, the New York Times reports. An activist says the move may be a nationwide first: "I've never heard of anything like that happening anywhere else," she notes. "It would definitely be an innovation." Along with the seven-member board, the city's correction commissioner backs the move. All that's left is for the city to secure funds for extra prison staff; if all goes according to plan, the decision would take effect a year from now.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration had previously refused calls for greater limits on solitary confinement, which was recently banned for 16- and 17-year-old inmates, the Times notes. The move comes as the city faces a federal lawsuit over prisoner treatment; a range of reports have presented disturbing accounts of life at Rikers Island. The board also unanimously approved tougher "enhanced supervision housing" for the most violent prisoners, the AP reports; prison officials had sought the move, but advocates for prisoners say it deprives inmates of their rights and could actually lead to more violence. (Read more solitary confinement stories.)

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