After years of advocacy from formerly incarcerated people, leaders, and experts, Mayor de Blasio recently pledged to end the use of solitary confinement in NYC. In a step towards progress, he created a new working group tasked with creating recommendations for entirely eliminating solitary confinement in NYC, which the Board of Correction will vote on this Fall.
The Fortune Society’s Executive Vice President Stanley Richards will lead the working group comprised of NYC Department of Correction Commissioner, Cynthia Brann and President & CEO of Just Leadership USA, DeAnna Hoskins. People with lived experience in solitary confinement, including Stanley, will have a direct voice in creating policies to end this inhumane form of torture that has harmed people for too long.
At Fortune, we’ve seen firsthand how solitary confinement has damaged, and taken, far too many Black and Brown lives. As people continue protesting police brutality and declaring Black Lives Matter, we must also remember that brutality happens behind bars everyday with no accountability or transparency. Solitary confinement is one of the most inhumane ways that violence is perpetuated inside jails and prisons, inflicting an immeasurable and lasting psychological toll on individuals.
We are confident that the recommendations to be proposed by the working group will finally bring NYC to a point where the use of solitary confinement is eliminated once and for all. Since the Mayor’s announcement, solitary confinement has been prohibited for people with certain medical conditions.
At the same time, however, we also recognize that progress towards ending this inhumane practice has been gradual thus far. Coalitions and advocates have been in this fight for decades, inching closer to justice and humanity with every policy success.
Although the Mayor’s recent announcement is an important milestone, it is also just one more step forward in the ongoing movement for long overdue change. For Layleen Polanco, Kalief Browder, Nicholas Feliciano, and far too many other individuals who have, and continue to, suffer the trauma of solitary confinement, solutions in the coming months must be immediate, far-reaching, and longterm.