TIMELINE: JAC Pushes for Solitary Confinement Reform in NYC Jails

02 Feb TIMELINE: JAC Pushes for Solitary Confinement Reform in NYC Jails

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The City jails are in crisis. Incarcerated people, including young people, are at risk of being subjected to serious physical harm by Department of Correction (DOC) staff who are unabashed in their use of excessive force. Inadequate health and mental health treatment have led to preventable deaths of incarcerated people. DOC staff are rarely held accountable for their misconduct. The use of solitary confinement (punitive segregation) to punish violations of jail rules was standard DOC practice before the Board adopted Minimum Standards limiting its use in January 2015 but those reforms have been pushed-back and are still yet-to-be-implemented as of early February, 2016.

JAC Pushes for Solitary Reform

January 2017

January 14, 2017
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JAC Writes Urgent Plea to BOC to Reject “Emergency” Variance Aimed at Keeping Teens in Solitary-Like Unit on Rikers

New York City Jails Action Coalition c/o Urban Justice Center 40 Rector Street, 9th floor New York, NY 10006   January 13, 2017     NYC Board of Correction 1 Centre Street, Room 2213 New York, NY 10007 BY E-MAIL   Dear Members of the...

January 2016

January 25, 2016

President Obama Announces Ban on Solitary for Teens in Federal Prisons

President Obama  announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system citing  devastating psychological consequences et al. In a Washington Post op-ed published on January 25, 2016 the president ticks-off a number of mandates that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level...
January 12, 2016
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NYC BOC FLIP-FLOPS: Keeps 18-21 year old TEENS IN SOLITARY UNTIL JUNE 1, 2016

DOC Variance – Elimination of Punitive Segregation 18-21 Standard 1-17, “Limitations on the Use of Punitive Segregation” Subdivision (b)(1)(ii) A limited variance authorizes an extension of the January 1, 2016 deadline to complete the elimination of punitive segregation for inmates ages 18 through 21.  The...

December 2015

December 18, 2015
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How the Landmark Settlement Will—and Will Not—Change Solitary Confinement in New York’s Prisons

By Jean Casella Solitary Watch, December 18, 2015 The settlement announced Wednesday by the New York Civil Liberties Union in the Peoples v Fischer case brings broad, deep, and meaningful change to the way New York utilizes solitary confinement in its state prisons. It is...
December 16, 2015
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BOC APPROVES Mandatory 45-day Reviews & Daily Mental Health Rounds in Solitary

45 Day Reviews and Mental Health Rounds in Punitive Segregation • Standard § 1-17 (d)(5) requires for any other inmate serving 45 consecutive days of punitive segregation that a review identical to that in Standard § 1-17 (d)(4)(iii) shall be conducted with the same written...
December 16, 2015
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New York State Agrees to Overhaul Solitary Confinement in Prisons

Photo:  Jacob Hannah for The New York Times “New York has agreed to a major overhaul in the way solitary confinement is administered in the state’s prisons, with the goal of significantly reducing the number of inmates held in isolation, cutting the maximum length of...
December 16, 2015

BOC Votes to Mandate Reporting on Punitive Segregation from the DOC

BOC Votes to Mandate Reports on Punitive Segregation from the DOC: • Standard § 1-17 (h)(1) is amended to add numerous reporting requirements about punitive segregation that are to be reported on by the Department every 60 days. The reporting includes efforts to reduce lengths...
December 16, 2015
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BOC REVERSES COURSE: Allows Solitary Stays for over 60 days in Some Circumstances

The Board Voted to Increase in Punitive Segregation Sentences for Serious Assault on Staff – • Standard § 1-17 (d)(1) includes an exception to the 30 day limit on punitive segregation sentences for “a serious assault on staff as described in paragraph (4) of this...
December 16, 2015
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BOC Grants Limited Variance — Affects 7 day breaks from Solitary after 30-day stays

Limited Variance granted on 12/16/15 – Affects 7 days out of punitive segregation after serving 30 days.  Allowed from 12/16/15 – 6/16/16. In highly exceptional circumstances presenting safety and security concerns, the DOC may keep an inmate in punitive segregation for longer than 30 days...
December 16, 2015
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BOC Votes to Mandate Reporting on Punitive Segregation from the DOC

BOC Votes to Mandate Reports on Punitive Segregation from the DOC: • Standard § 1-17 (h)(1) is amended to add numerous reporting requirements about punitive segregation that are to be reported on by the Department every 60 days. The reporting includes efforts to reduce lengths...

January 2015

January 15, 2015
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NYC Department of Investigation Report on the Recruiting and Hiring Process for NYC Correction Officers

The report describes DOI’s investigation of DOC’s recruitment and applicant screening procedures and concludes that “DOC’s hiring process has failed to recruit sufficiently talented COs and has failed, in some instances, to weed out those who would abuse their position.” Download and Read the full...
January 13, 2015
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13, 2015: BOC votes to Remove all Teenagers from Solitary by January 1, 2016OC votes to Remove all Teenagers from Solitary by January 1, 2016

The Board of Correction voted to remove all teenagers under the age of 21 from Solitary Confinement and its similar cohort units by January 1, 2016.   Hon. Brianne Hammill express doubts about the tit-for-tat swap that she was being forced to vote on in order...
January 13, 2015
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Jan 13, 2015: BOC caps ALL Punitive Seg/Solitary stay at 30 days for any single infraction

The Board of Correction approved changes to the minimum standards of the DOC charter that limits the maximum sentence on all Punitive Segregation/Solitary Confinement for Adults and teens through 2015  to be capped at  30 days effective immediately (as of January 13, 2015), although the rule did...

December 2014

December 26, 2014
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Dec 2014: Committee Report to the US Commission on Civil Rights Report:

The New York Advisory Committee (Committee) submits this report, “Civil Rights Implications of Solitary Confinement of Youth in New York,” as part of its responsibility to advise the Commission on civil rights issues within the state. The report was adopted by the Advisory Committee by...

November 2014

November 1, 2014
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NYC Department of Investigation Report on Security Failures at City DOC Facilities

The Department of Investigation (DOI) documents the significant problem of weapons and narcotics smuggling into Rikers Island and identifies two causes: insufficient protocols for screening staff upon entrance to the facility and the failure to follow the existing staff screening protocol. Read the full report...

October 2014

October 28, 2014
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Violence Trend Report: Use of Force Incidents Involving Adolescent Inmates in New York City Jails From 2007 to Present, City of New York Board of Correction

The report documents the disparity between the use of force rate for adolescents and adults. The use of force rate has increased for both groups over the last six years. The rate for adolescents was nine times greater in 2013-2014 than it was in 2007-2008....
October 28, 2014
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Violence Trend Report: Use of Force Incidents Involving Adolescent Inmates in New York City Jails From 2007 to Present,

The report documents the disparity between the use of force rate for adolescents and adults. The use of force rate has increased for both groups over the last six years. The rate for adolescents was nine times greater in 2013-2014 than it was in 2007-2008....

August 2014

August 8, 2014
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Ratification of Local Law 42

Enacted August 28, 2014, this local law amends the NYC Administrative Code to require the DOC Commissioner, in coordination with the DOHMH Commissioner, to post a quarterly report on its website regarding punitive segregation, restricted housing and clinical alternative to punitive segregation housing statistics for...
August 4, 2014
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CRIPA Investigation of the NYC DOC Jails on Rikers Island, U.S. Department of Justice, August 4, 2014

The Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded that “there is a pattern and practice of conduct at Rikers that violates the constitutional rights of adolescent inmates. In particular, we find that adolescent inmates at Rikers are not adequately protected from harm, including serious physical harm from...

July 2014

July 21, 2014
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July 21, 2014 New York City to Pay $2.75 Million to Settle Suit in Death of Rikers Island Inmate,” The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser

Rikers Island correction officer beat inmate Ronald Spear to death The homicide of Ronald Spear occurred at the North Infirmary Command at Rikers Island where he should have received treatment for kidney disease. Instead, he died of “blunt force trauma” to the head after being...
July 12, 2014
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“Rikers: Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality in Jail,” The New York Times, Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirtz

  This article describes an 11-month study completed by DOHMH which found that 129 incarcerated people experienced serious injuries in altercations with DOC staff. Seventy-seven percent of those injured had a mental health diagnosis. In 80% of the cases in which incarcerated Rikers: Where Mental...
July 1, 2014
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STAFF REPORT PUBLISHED: Barriers to Recreation at Rikers Island’s Central Punitive Segregation Unit, City of New York BOC Staff

Even individuals who are sentenced to solitary confinement are entitled to at least one hour of out-of-cell recreation every day. Minimum Standard § 1-06 (g). This BOC report found that only 10% of the people incarcerated at the largest solitary confinement facility on Rikers Island,...

March 2014

March 1, 2014
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“Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates,” American Journal of Public Health

Researchers from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the agency responsible for providing healthcare to people incarcerated in NYC jails, analyzed data from 244,699 incarcerations in the NYC jail system from January 1, 2010, through January 31, 2013. The study found that...

December 2013

December 11, 2013
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Dec 11, 2013: Determination of Violation of Civil Service Law Section 210 by Certain Correction Officers in the DOC Correction Transportation Division

The Department of Citywide Administration Services found that correction officers in the Transportation Division engaged in a strike on November 18, 2013, when they refused to transport incarcerated individuals to court and medical facilities on the day that fellow correction officers Kevin Gilkes and Louis...

October 2013

October 1, 2013
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Oct 2013: Three Adolescents with Mental Illness in Punitive Segregation at Rikers Island, NYC BOC Staff Report

The adolescents featured in this report were diagnosed with mental illness and were each sentenced to more than 200 days in solitary confinement at Rikers Island. The report documents the punitive nature of the RHU, the inadequacies in mental health care, and the failure to...

September 2013

September 5, 2013
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Report to the NYC BOC by Drs. James Gilligan and Bandy Lee,

Mental Health Minimum Standards concludes that DOC’s “use of prolonged punitive segregation of the mentally ill violates” these standards. The report asserts that prolonged confinement is “one of the most severe forms of punishment that can be inflicted on human beings short of killing them.”...

June 2013

June 13, 2013
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BOC Votes to Accept JAC Proposal to Begin Solitary Confinement Reform

On June 3, the BOC decided between the following:  1) commence rule-making (including consideration of the proposal provided by JAC and any alternatives); 2) reject the JAC petition as premature and appoint a committee to study the issue of use of solitary confinement in the...

April 2013

April 9, 2013
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JAC Petition to the NYC Board of Correction for Adoption of Rules Regarding the Use of Solitary Confinement

JAC’s petition for rulemaking, and community organizing against the solitary confinement practices in the jails, brought this issue to the forefront of reforms needed in the City jails. JAC’s call for the Board to adopt minimum standards regarding the use of solitary confinement (punitive segregation)...
April 4, 2013
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JAC Rally Against Solitary Confinement at New York City Hall

City Council Members announced an important legislation proposal against the use of Solitary Confinement and JAC will announced their demands to the Board of Correction for new policy on Solitary Confinement. Tuesday, April 9th, 11:00 am, on the steps of City Hall, 260 Broadway, New York,...
April 2, 2013

NYC Council Introduces Bill to Mandate Reporting on Solitary Confinement Practices in NYC Jails

NYC Council Bill aims to reduce solitary confinement Former inmate says years in the ‘box’ affect sleep, induce paranoia …A new bill introduced by Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) would require the Department of Correction to post a monthly report on its website about punitive...

February 2013

February 7, 2013
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Panel Discussion: Federal Bar Council Special Committee on Sentencing Reform and Alternatives to Incarceration
present Solitary Confinement: Perspectives From Inside and Out.

Solitary Confinement: Perspectives From Inside and Out   The Federal Bar Council Special Committee on Sentencing Reform and Alternatives to Incarceration
present Solitary Confinement: Perspectives From Inside and Out. Come explore issues relating to the use of solitary confinement.   The discussion will include an overview of how state and...

October 2012

October 22, 2012
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Panel Discussion: Critical Issues in Corrections: Is Segregation and Isolation of Youth in Adult Facilities Necessary?

  Critical Issues in Corrections: Is Segregation and Isolation of Youth in Adult Facilities Necessary? hosted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice 524 West 59th St, NYC Monday October 22 at 2PM A panel discussion with New York corrections leaders and policy advocates including:...
October 12, 2012
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Human Rights Watch Publishes “Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in the United States”

US: Teens in Solitary Confinement  Youths Suffer Serious Harm From Weeks, Months in ‘Lock-Down’ Published on Oct 10, 2012 Youths Suffer Serious Harm From Weeks, Months in ‘Lock-Down’ http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/10/10/us… Young people are held in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States, often...
October 2, 2012
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National Coverage of JAC’s 9/10/12 Demonstration in The Nation Magazine

Unlock The Box: The Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York As a movement against punitive segregation in local prisons and jails, a new report by the New York Civil Liberties Union reveals more disturbing details On the first chilly morning in September, several dozen...

September 2012

September 14, 2012

JAC Member Rick Sawyer Brings Solitary Confinement in NYC Jails to the National Dialogue on HuffPost Live Segment:

Keeping prisoners isolated is a form of torture. No matter the criminal or crime committed, solitary confinement should never be used as a correctional tool.
September 12, 2012
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9/10/12: JAC Speak-Out Against Solitary Confinement

July 2012

July 10, 2012
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SOLITARY WATCH COVERAGE: Demonstrators Protest Solitary Confinement and Brutality in New York City’s Jails

…The Jails Action Coalition (JAC), a newly formed grassroots activist group that opposes the expansion of solitary confinement and other abuses in New York City’s jails, held a demonstration outside a meeting of the city’s Board of Corrections. Chanting, “We demand prisoners’ rights, together we stand, together we fight!”...
July 9, 2012
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Grassroots Effort to Reform NYC Jails Launches with Protest outside BOC Meeting

Grassroots Effort to Reform NYC Jails to Launch Monday with Protest outside Board of Correction Meeting  NYC Has One of the Highest Rates of Solitary Confinement in U.S.; By 2013, NYC Department of Correction (DOC) Intends To Increase Solitary Confinement Cells By 69% Culture of...
July 9, 2012
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Gotham Gazette: “NYC Jails Action Coalition Pushes Reform”

NYC Jails Action Coalition Pushes Reform July 9th, 2012 A recently formed coalition is calling for a reduction in the use of solitary confinement and what they refer to as a “culture of brutality” in the city’s jail system. The New York City Jails Action...

June 2012

June 27, 2012
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New York Times OpED by JJ Parish and Richard Sawyer

New York Times OpED: Published June 27, 2012 To the Editor: “The Abuse of Solitary Confinement” (editorial, June 21) elegantly summarizes the case against solitary confinement in our country’s jails and prisons. Solitary confinement increases prison violence and promotes suffering and mental illness. Ending solitary...
June 20, 2012
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New York Times Editorial Board Publishes Piece Decrying Tortures of Solitary Confinement in NYC Jails

The New York Times | Opinion Pages | Editorial The Abuse of Solitary Confinement JUNE 20, 2012 Solitary confinement in this country has devolved from a short-term punishment imposed infrequently for violating prison rules into a routine form of prison management. Today, tens of thousands of...
June 6, 2012

Anthony Graves, Death Row Solitary Confinement Survivor, testifies in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Dick Durbin

On June 19, 2012, the U. S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights held the first-ever congressional hearing about solitary confinement.  R The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and...

March 2012

March 10, 2012
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JAC Starts Petition: NYC BOC End The Use of Solitary Confinement in New York City

…We oppose the overuse and expansion of solitary confinement in the city jails. Solitary confinement (what the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) refers to as “punitive segregation”) is used to punish people who violate jail rules by confining them for 23 hours a...
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