Letter to the Editor in Today's New York Times
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012

The New York Times published a letter to the editor today from Sarah Kerr, a staff attorney, and John Boston, director of the Prisoners' Rights Project of The Legal Aid Society, who were reacting to a front page article in Sunday's Times on the drastic reduction in the use of solitary confinement in Mississippi prisons. They suggested that "New York City's jails-- notoriously chaotic, unruly and brutal--need reform, but simply locking up more and more prisoners is not the solution. New York should follow Mississippi's lead."




The New York Times
March 14, 2012
How New York Practices Solitary Confinement

To the Editor:

“Rethinking Solitary Confinement” (front page, March 11) reports on the Mississippi prisons’ drastic reduction in the use of solitary confinement. Similar successful efforts are under way in other states, including Maine and Colorado.

In contrast, New York City is going backward: the Department of Correction is carrying out a drastic increase in solitary confinement cells (pretrial detainees held in 23-hour lock-in, with only an hour a day for exercise and showers).

The jail population has been falling for years, yet the department plans an expansion that will give New York City one of the highest rates of punitive segregation in the country.

New York City’s jails — notoriously chaotic, unruly and brutal — need reform, but simply locking up more and more prisoners is not the solution. New York should follow Mississippi’s lead.


SARAH KERR
JOHN BOSTON
New York, March 12, 2012

The writers are, respectively, staff attorney and director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society.