NY mayor urged to reinstate solitary confinement for violent inmates

The call comes after a correction officer’s spine was fractured by inmates at Rikers


By Reuven Blau
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is urging the de Blasio administration to reinstate solitary confinement for violent inmates after a correction officer’s spine was fractured by a group of five detainees.

In 2015, the city ended solitary for teen inmates and limited it for everyone behind bars, citing research showing that it can exacerbate and even create social issues that lead to violence.

In this March 16, 2011, file photo, a security fence surrounds the inmate housing on New York's Rikers Island correctional facility in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
In this March 16, 2011, file photo, a security fence surrounds the inmate housing on New York's Rikers Island correctional facility in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

But jail officers say they need to separate inmates who act out and that a spike in slashings behind bars is a direct correlation to the end of solitary confinement. There were over 140 slashings in city jails last year, department records show.

Adams, a former police captain, is the first elected official to call for the punishment to be brought back.

“There are small portions of youth who exhibit extreme signs of violence,” he said. “And until that behavior can be modified they must be removed from a general population in a jail and gen population in our communities.”

On Monday, de Blasio indicated he has no plans to change course.

“Solitary confinement doesn’t make people better,” he said on NY1. “It doesn’t make them more conducive to being orderly or well behaved. Solitary confinement unfortunately eats away at the human soul.”

The number of inmates in solitary confinement has dropped from 813 in 2013 to a little over 100 last year, records show.

Inmate advocates point out that the number of stabbings and slashings increased under former Correction Department Dora Schriro’s tenure even though she heavily relied on solitary to separate bad behaving inmates.

Still, Adams, and the unions representing jail staff, contend they need to use the punishment in extreme cases.

On Saturday, Correction Officer Jean Souffrant’s spine was fractured after he was attacked by a group of five alleged gang members inside a Rikers Island jail.

The inmates were all 21 or younger and were already placed in a specialized unit, records show.

“We had a correction officer who was ambushed,” Adams said. “That would have been unacceptable to a member of the Police Department. We have to stop treating members of the Correction Department differently.”

Meanwhile, members of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association plan to rally outside the mayor’s State of the City address in Brooklyn Tuesday night.

©2018 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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