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NYC Prisoners With Serious Mental Illnesses to No Longer Be Put in Solitary Confinement

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New York City prisoners with serious mental illnesses will no longer be put in solitary confinement when they break the rules.

The announcement from the Department of Correction comes a few months after a report found hundreds of mentally ill inmates in solitary at Rikers Island.

The DOC says that prisons are replacing solitary confinement with two different programs.

One is for inmates with serious mental illness. It includes group and individual therapy, and is modeled after inpatient hospital care.

The other program is for inmates with less serious mental illnesses. That program still includes solitary confinement, but prisoners can get out early if they attend therapy sessions.

Lisa Ortega, a prisoners' rights advocate, said she won't be happy until solitary confinement is completely banned.

"I think the reason they decided to put out a public statement about that is because there was a lot of pressure from community groups such as ours and people who were directly affected that were really tired of this happening, and we started telling the stories and putting demands on DOC," Ortega said. "How much of that I believe DOC will do, I don't know. I believe it's lip service because there's no oversight from the community at large, which means that they can basically still do whatever they want."

The reforms stemmed from concerns that solitary confinement can worsen the symptoms of mental illness.

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