O’Donnell, Rozic Bills to Comply with Committee Against Torture’s Recommendations Pass Correction Committee

Today, Assembly Correction Committee Chair Daniel O’Donnell and Committee Member Nily Rozic’s bills to reform New York’s solitary confinement laws passed the Correction Committee, and will now advance to the Codes Committee. The bills would conform New York’s standards to recommendations issued by the United Nations Committee Against Torture in November.

“I am proud that the Correction Committee has passed A1346 and A1347 as quickly as we have,” said Assembly Member O’Donnell. “Following the Committee Against Torture’s report, it is all the more clear that the reforms contained within these bills are vital and urgent. New York’s prisons should be places of rehabilitation, not counterproductive punishment. These bills will contribute to that goal by making solitary confinement a true measure of last resort and banning its use for particularly vulnerable inmates who are under 21, pregnant, or mentally ill.”

“Knowing that excessive periods of isolation can lead to emotional, physical, and psychological harm, we must continue to build on recent efforts to ban the use of solitary confinement as punishment. Now that we have passed these bills through committee, we are another step closer to reforming New York’s correctional facilities and creating an environment that focuses on rehabilitation and safe re-entry,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.

“I welcome the leadership of Assembly Member O’Donnell and the Correction Committee of the NY State Assembly to introduce measures here at home to limit the use of solitary confinement so that it is not used against minors or persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, or pregnant women, and is also limited – so that it becomes a measure of last resort rather than routine punishment,” said Felice Gaer, Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights and Vice Chair of the UN Committee Against Torture, speaking in her personal capacity. “This reflects respect for the Committee’s recommendations, which are aimed at ensuring humane treatment of persons held in detention.”

“Prolonged solitary confinement is barbaric and a flagrant human rights violation that must be ended, for everyone,” said Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York. “The irreparable damage it causes can never be justified. These bills represent a significant step toward reducing the over-reliance on solitary confinement in New York State, and I applaud Assembly Members O'Donnell and Rozic for making them a top priority. I encourage the legislature to move quickly to pass these bills and protect everyone who is incarcerated in New York. We must never forget that people are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment.”

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, added, “excessive and arbitrary imposition of long term solitary confinement in New York is incompatible with principles of dignity and fairness. It causes lasting and devastating harm that make it harder for prisoners to re-enter society after they pay their debt to society.”