New York City To End Punitive Segregation In Jails

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Prisons in New York City have been ordered to discontinue the practice of punitive segregation for inmates with underlying medical conditions.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Board of Correction Chair Jennifer Jones Austin announced the formation of a working group to eliminate solitary confinement in the New York City jail system for inmates who have underlying health conditions.

Conditions include individuals who are diabetic, individuals on asthma medication, on antiepileptic medications for seizures, on blood thinners, or have any history of organ transplant. Individuals who have a diagnosis of heart disease, lung disease, or kidney disease also will be excempt.

The working group's recommendations will be incorporated into the Board's broader rule package on restrictive housing and voted on in the fall. The Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services will immediately implement new restrictions that will exclude individuals with certain medical conditions from restrictive housing.

"From closing Rikers Island to banning punitive segregation for people under the age of 22, we have reoriented our correction system to value human life and rehabilitation," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his ddaily briefing. "Now with Jennifer at the helm of the Board and Stanley leading the working group, we will chart the course forward with the Board to ban punitive segregation altogether, making good on our commitment to creating jails that are fundamentally smaller, safer, and fairer," he told reporters.

"Punitive segregation has been proven over and over to be an inhumane practice resulting in debilitating trauma that endures, often for the remainder of a person's lifetime", said Jennifer Jones Austin.

The working group to end punitive segregation will be led by Board Vice-Chair Stanley Richards and include Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann, Benny Boscio, President of the Corrections Officer Benevolent Association, and Just Leadership USA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins.

The group will work over the next three months to present recommendations to be included in the proposed restrictive housing rule.

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