Cuomo signs law limiting solitary confinement in prisons to 15 days
Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the HALT Solitary Confinement Act (S2836/A2277A) into law, reforming the practice of segregated confinement in New York State correctional facilities.
This legislation limits the amount of time an incarcerated person can spend in segregated confinement to 15 days, clearly defines and reduces the number of disciplinary infractions eligible for segregated confinement, and exempts certain vulnerable populations, including the young, elderly, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and individuals with a serious mental illness.
This legislation also establishes Residential Rehabilitation Units to provide incarcerated individuals with therapeutic and trauma-informed programming in a congregate setting. The expanded program model enacted by the HALT legislation will better address an individual’s underlying criminogenic needs and provide greater rehabilitative impacts to change behavior, leading to positive outcomes for individuals transitioning back to the general population.
“Generations of incarcerated men and women have been subjected to inhumane punishment in segregated confinement with little to no human interaction for extended periods of time and many experience emotional and physical trauma that can last for years,” Governor Cuomo said. “By signing the HALT Solitary Confinement Act into law we are reforming New York’s criminal justice system by helping ensure the effective implementation of proven, humane corrections policies. I applaud the bill sponsors and look forward to continuing our work to reform the era of mass incarceration and usher in a safer, more just Empire State.”
HALT Solitary Confinement Act
Studies have shown that isolation with little or no human contact for extended periods of time often leads to lasting trauma, as well as unintended consequences that are detrimental to an individual’s rehabilitation. This legislation includes several reforms, including:
- A limitation on the amount of time people can spend in segregated confinement or special housing units to 15 days;
- The creation of Residential Rehabilitations Units that will afford incarcerated individuals out-of-cell programming and trauma informed care, to address the underlying actions that resulted in their discipline;
- The establishment of a minimum amount of out-of-cell time, therapeutic programming and/or recreation;
- A restriction on the placement of youth, pregnant women, elderly and individuals with a serious mental illness into segregated confinement; and
- An increase in the training of all staff that work within special housing units on de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, trauma-informed care, and dispute resolution.