City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams announced her support for a bill that would ban solitary confinement in city jails and plans to schedule a hearing on the legislation next week.
The bill was reintroduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in June after failing to pass in previous years. It’s sponsored by 35 Council members, a veto-proof majority in the 51-seat chamber.
“We do have that supermajority. I think that the members are very, very interested in getting this done,” Speaker Adams told Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Monday. “New York is better than solitary confinement. We have got to find a better way to handle disruption in our jail.”
Tonight, @NYCSpeakerAdams announced her support for a bill that would ban solitary confinement in city jails.— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) September 12, 2022
“New York is better than solitary confinement. We have got to find a better way to handle disruption in our jail," she told @errollouis on "Inside City Hall" Monday. pic.twitter.com/2Vz1GFf3NL
Oversight officials said in July that almost two dozen detainees were locked in cells for 23 hours a day under the current system.
Mayor Adams expressed his support for “punitive segregation” in the past, arguing it was different from solitary confinement.
“When reporters report that I’m in support of solitary confinement, that is not right. I’m in support of punitive segregation,” Mayor Adams said in December, just before taking office. “It’s taking people out of these small jails cells, which is inhumane, and it’s putting them in areas that is larger, giving them the services that they need.”
The mayor’s office did not return a request for comment.
The legislation would mandate a maximum of eight hours per night and two hours per day that the Department of Correction would be allowed to confine inmates “unless such confinement is necessary to de-escalate immediate conflict that has caused injury or poses a specific, serious and imminent danger to a person’s safety.”
"Banning solitary confinement- not just in name, but a real end to this dangerous, torturous practice, is an urgent priority for my office and our city, and it is an honor to have her partnership and voice in the fight to get this done," Williams said of Speaker Adams' support of his legislation.
So far this year, 12 incarcerated individuals have died in city custody while being held on Rikers Island; a 13th inmate passed away days after he was granted compassionate release following a suicide attempt. Rikers has garnered scrutiny from city, state, and federal officials as Mayor Adams and the city correction department work to reform the troubled jail facility and fend off a federal takeover.