[JURIST] New York City officials announced [press release] Tuesday that they have agreed on a plan that will eliminate the use of solitary confinement for inmates 21 or younger at Rikers Island prison [official website]. The new plan comes on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio banning solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates in December. Bryanne Hamill of the New York Board of Corrections stated, “[t]he evidence showed that solitary confinement will not improve their future behavior, but will reliably convert anger and frustration today into rage and violence tomorrow.” Some experts have also concluded that solitary confinement could worsen or cause mental illnesses of young inmates. Rikers Island is currently the second largest prison in the nation and has faced criticism for the reported brutality and neglect [NYT report] faced by inmates. The city of New york plans to provide more funding for improved programs to continue to address these issues.
New York City is currently in litigation in the Southern District of New York as federal prosecutors have sued [JURIST report] the city for the reported harsh conditions conditions at Rikers Island prison. The lawsuit comes after an August report [text] by the US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, which found [JURIST report] a “deep-seated culture of violence” against teenage inmates at the facility. The August report was released after a multi-year investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act [text], which found that correctional officers relied on physical forms of punishment. The report advised the city to implement changes for improvement, such as increasing the use of surveillance cameras, revising the use-of-force policy and creating a policy for staff to report suspicious officer behavior.