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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the HALT Solitary Confinement Act into law, reforming the segregated confinement practices in New York State correctional facilities.

“Generations of incarcerated men and women have been subjected to inhumane punishment in segregated confinement with little to no human interaction for extended periods of time and many experience emotional and physical trauma that can last for years,” Governor Cuomo said. “By signing the HALT Solitary Confinement Act into law we are reforming New York’s criminal justice system by helping ensure the effective implementation of proven, humane corrections policies. I applaud the bill sponsors and look forward to continuing our work to reform the era of mass incarceration and usher in a safer, more just Empire State.”

Senator Julia Salazar said, “The HALT Solitary Confinement Act will put an end to the use of long-term solitary confinement in our state, a practice that has perpetuated violence and caused irreparable harm. I thank Governor Cuomo for taking action and signing this bill into law. This is a necessary step in making our state’s correctional facilities safer and our communities healthier.”

#HALTsolitary campaign leader Jerome Wright called the bill signing an “important victory.”

“Solitary confinement is torture. It causes immense suffering and destroys people’s minds, bodies, and souls. It should have no place in New York State or the rest of this country or world. I know because I survived it. I know because so many others did not survive it. New York State is taking a giant leap forward by enacting the HALT Solitary Confinement Act. While predominantly Black and Latinx people have disproportionately suffered in solitary in New York for months, years, and decades, the HALT bill will follow the United Nations ‘Mandela Rules’ and ensure that no person in New York prisons or jails is held in solitary for more than 15 days. Now, we all must ensure that the bill is not weakened through any chapter amendments, nor that anyone is allowed to be tortured,” Wright said in a statement.

HALT Solitary Confinement Act

Studies have shown that isolation with little or no human contact for extended periods of time often leads to lasting trauma, as well as unintended consequences that negatively impact an individual’s rehabilitation. This legislation includes several reforms, including:

  • A limitation on the amount of time people can spend in segregated confinement or special housing units to 15 days
  • The creation of Residential Rehabilitations Units that will allow incarcerated individuals out-of-cell programming and trauma informed care to address the underlying actions that caused them to commit crimes
  • The establishment of a minimum amount of out-of-cell time, therapeutic programming and/or recreation
  • A restriction on the placement of youth, pregnant women, elderly and individuals with a serious mental illness into segregated confinement
  • An increase in the training of all staff that work within special housing units on de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, trauma-informed care, and dispute resolution.