New York City will begin ending the use of solitary confinement in jails, Politico reports.
Effective immediately, prisoners with certain underlying medical conditions will not be permitted to be placed in solitary confinement, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
He said a four-person panel has been put in place to come up with a plan by the fall to completely end the use of solitary for all prisoners.
The decision came days after 17 corrections officers were disciplined in the death of Layleen Polanco, a transgender inmate, who died at Rikers last year, after she was put in solitary against medical advice.
"Layleen Polanco should not have been in Rikers to begin with," de Blasio said at a press briefing. "Layleen Polanco should not have been in solitary confinement.
"And Lord knows she deserves justice. Her family deserves justice. The transgender community deserves justice. We have to right the wrong. We can't bring her back. But we can make a change to that no one else goes through such a tragedy."
Polanco, a 27-year-old transgender woman with epilepsy, was arrested in April 2019 on two misdemeanor charges. While in jail, she had two seizures along with several mental health emergencies. A clinician said she was not fit to be put in solitary, but jail officials asked a different medical personnel to approve the move to solitary. She was found dead from a seizure.
Before the incident, de Blasio was opposed to ending solitary as a punishment for inmates, according to Politico.
Pregnant prisoners, inmates under the age of 21 and those with serious mental illness were already not allowed to be put in solitary. Now, people suffering from asthma, seizures, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, or being treated with blood thinners may not be placed in solitary. Prisoners who use wheelchairs or walkers or are blind or deaf also may not be put in solitary, per the new rules.
"We have to go further, so lets take the next step: Let's end solitary confinement altogether," de Blasio said. "We have a lot to do to create more safety for people who are incarcerated and for our correction officers and employees alike, but we know there are ways we can do this without punitive segregation."
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