Corrections Proposes More Punitive Segregation in NYC Jails; Prisoners' Rights Calls for Reform and Warns that NYC Will Have One of the Highest Rates of Punitive Segregation in the Country
MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2012

In testimony presented to the New York City Council on March 8, The Legal Aid Society's Prisoners' Rights Project opposed the New York City Department of Correction's (DOC) ill advised and expansive plan to increase the use of harmful isolated confinement (punitive segregation) in the City's jails. The expansion would give New York City one of the country's highest rates of punitive segregation. A number of states have drastically reduced the use of solitary confinement.

The New York City jails are chaotic, unruly, and notoriously brutal institutions. The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project receives substantial numbers of complaints each year from detainees in the City jails concerning poor medical care, poor mental health care, staff brutality, victimization by other prisoners, and other unsafe conditions. The Prisoners’ Rights Project has brought four class action lawsuits addressing systemic brutality in the City jails, in each of which Legal Aid prevailed by trial or settlement, and it continues to bring a large number of lawsuits on behalf of individual prisoners who suffered serious injuries from staff beatings. One of the cases specifically concerned staff brutality within the Central Punitive Segregation Unit on Rikers Island. Testimony was presented by Sarah Kerr, an attorney in the Prisoners' Rights Project.

Read the full testimony (PDF).