The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report yesterday detailing the “inhumane, arbitrary use of solitary confinement” in New
York state prisons. Based on the report, the group is now calling for drastic reforms in how the New York State Department of Corrections deals with inmates in segregated housing units, where prisoners are often kept alone in their cells for 23 hours a day.
The DOC has since responded to the report, and while Commissioner Brian Fischer defends the need for segregated housing units, he says his office already has launched a review of the DOC’s policies when it comes to solitary confinement.
“As society removes those individuals who commit crimes, so too must we
remove from general population inmates who violate the Department’s code
of conduct and who threaten the safety and security of our facilities,” Fischer says in a statement the DOC provided to the Voice.
“The possession of drugs, cell phones, and weapons pose a serious threat
within this and any other prison system.”
Following the year-long study, NYCLU researchers came to the following
conclusions regarding the DOC’s segregated housing policies:
however, maintains that solitary confinement is necessary part of the
prison system, noting that, “it is our duty to protect those in our
custody, as well as our employees. . . . The use of disciplinary segregation
is important to the
overall well-being of any of our prisons.”
That said, Fischer says he recognizes “the need
to constantly review our policies to determine if what we’re doing is
effective and beneficial to everyone.”
He says that his office has been reviewing SHU policies since the beginning of September and will provide a list of recommendations “based upon sound penological principles” as soon as the review is complete.