ALBANY, N.Y. (UPI) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed a law banning long-term solitary confinement in the state’s prisons.
The HALT Solitary Confinement Act limits the amount of time a person can spend in solitary confinement to 15 days, reduces the number of disciplinary infractions that can cause someone to be placed in solitary confinement, and creates an exemption for certain vulnerable populations.
“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 may experience emotional and physical trauma that can last for years,” Cuomo said.
The law is set to take effect on April 1, 2022, and will create a Residential Rehabilitation Unit where inmates will be transferred after their time in solitary confinement to take part in “therapeutic and trauma-informed programming in a congregate setting.”
Under the law, youth, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with serious mental illness will be exempted from being placed in solitary confinement.
It would also increase the training of all staff that work with special housing units on de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, trauma-informed care and dispute resolution.
“Solitary confinement has been established by the United Nations as a method of torture. The HALT act will not eliminate this practice, but will be regulated in a way which we think is conducive to the long-term betterment of both those who are incarcerated as well as the communities they return to,” New York Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubrey said.
Reporting by Daniel Uria
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