New York City – Today NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) introduced Intro 2173, legislation to end the use of solitary confinement in all NYC jails.
“History will not be kind to us if we turn back from the clarion call: Solitary confinement must end now,” said Dromm. “I am here to tell the families of those who did not survive: your suffering has not been in vain. I am here to tell the survivors that we have heard your anguished cries. We would not be here if it were not for you who have endured the unendurable, survived the unsurvivable, and come out on the other side to tell us what should already be apparent: that solitary is torture. It has no place in our city, no place in our state, and no place in our country.”
Dromm’s historic bill represents the culmination of over 10 years of advocacy. A longtime leader in the criminal justice reform movement, Dromm has worked closely with criminal justice experts, ATI (alternatives to incarceration) activists, social service providers, medical professionals and his colleagues in government on this effort that will bring unprecedented reform to the justice system.
Once Intro 2173 is made law, nearly all people detained in NYC jails will be guaranteed 14 hours of time out of their cells. Correction officers will be permitted to isolate individuals for the sole purpose of deescalating violent conflicts, and only for a maximum of four hours. The Department of Correction (DOC) will be required to document all instances of deescalation. These records will be made available to lawmakers and to the general public.
Intro 2173 will also shed light on and sharply curtail the City’s use of restrictive housing. The DOC will be required to hold mandatory placement hearings whenever an detained individual is placed into such housing. The legislation also mandates free legal counsel for these individuals and strict limitations on how long they can spend away from the general population.
This landmark bill is ultimately about creating humane conditions for all people inside NYC jails, including corrections officers and other city employees.
Dromm continued, “Solitary confinement is not just a violation of the basic human rights of the individual subjected to it. It is a horrific practice whose negative impact reverberates throughout our entire society. Correction officers and their supervisors are forced to dehumanize the incarcerated and desensitize themselves in the process, all the while making work conditions more dangerous. Surely there are violent individuals held in our jails–but the use of solitary only makes individuals more violent. This is not good criminal justice policy. NYC must seize this opportunity to make things right and to lead.”
The NYC Council Committee on Criminal Justice will hold a virtual public hearing on Intro 2173 on Friday, December 10th at 10:30am. Members of the public can view the hearing here:
The purpose of the hearing is to solicit comments from all the affected communities on how the legislation might be improved.