New York City Council Header
File #: Res 0379-2014    Version: * Name: Dept of Correction to end the practice of placing individuals returning to City jails into punitive segregation, also known as solitary confinement, to complete time owed.
Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Committee: Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services
On agenda: 8/21/2014
Enactment date: Law number:
Title: Resolution calling on the New York City Department of Correction to end the practice of placing individuals returning to City jails into punitive segregation, also known as solitary confinement, to complete time owed.
Sponsors: Daniel Dromm , Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Annabel Palma, Inez D. Barron, Margaret S. Chin, Costa G. Constantinides, Darlene Mealy, Rosie Mendez, The Public Advocate (Ms. James)
Council Member Sponsors: 9
Attachments: 1. Committee Report 8/20/14, 2. Hearing Testimony 8/20/14, 3. Hearing Transcript 8/20/14, 4. Hearing Transcript - Stated Meeting 8-21-14, 5. Minutes of the Stated Meeting - August 21, 2014
Preconsidered Res. No. 379
 
Resolution calling on the New York City Department of Correction to end the practice of placing individuals returning to City jails into punitive segregation, also known as solitary confinement, to complete time owed.
 
 
By Council Members Dromm, Cornegy, Palma, Barron, Chin, Constantinides, Mealy, Mendez and the Public Advocate (Ms. James)
            Whereas, The New York City Department of Correction ("DOC") is charged with overseeing and providing for the care, custody and control of individuals 16 years of age and older who are accused of crimes or convicted and sentenced to one year or less of incarceration; and
      Whereas, DOC reported 81,753 total admissions to City jails during Fiscal Year 2013, with an average daily population of 11,827; and
Whereas, DOC informs incarcerated individuals of department rules by publishing an inmate handbook that identifies prohibited conduct and a rulebook that lists the sanctions that may be imposed by a guilty finding; and
Whereas, The Department administers punitive segregation as a disciplinary tool for pretrial detainees and sentenced inmates for behavioral infractions during their incarceration; and
Whereas, Punitive segregation consists of single-cell housing units where inmates who have been found guilty of violating DOC rules may be temporarily housed as a sanction for their offense; and
Whereas, The DOC Commissioner recently presented testimony to the New York City Council stating that punitive segregation accounts for less than six percent of the City's total inmate population; and
 
Whereas, Inmates in punitive segregation are locked inside these specially designed single-cell units for 23 hours per day, with one hour of recreation and access to daily showers in the housing unit; and
Whereas, Individuals assigned to punitive segregation are often deprived of human contact and other sensory and intellectual stimulation, and such segregation can be deleterious to physical and mental health; and
Whereas, A growing body of academic research has found that solitary confinement can cause severe psychological damage and may in fact increase both violent behavior and suicide among incarcerated individuals; and
Whereas, According to inmate advocates, often times inmates with drug or mental health issues are placed back into punitive segregation without adequate treatment, which exacerbates their conditions; and
Whereas, For many years DOC's policy dictated that when an inmate assigned to punitive segregation is released from DOC before completing his or her punitive segregation time, he or she is required to serve the remaining days in punitive segregation if he or she returns to DOC facilities; and
Whereas, In January of 2012, DOC modified its policy and began expunging time owed for certain infractions from prior incarcerations; and
Whereas, Currently, minor infractions older than a year and any serious infraction such as the use of a weapon, arson, or assault on staff which is older than two years are expunged for individuals returning to jail; and
Whereas, Imposition of time owed is without regard to the person's conduct and experience in the intervening period; and
Whereas, An inmate released and then returned to DOC custody should be placed in punitive segregation only upon the commission of new acts of misconduct that warrant such severe punishment; and
Whereas, Notwithstanding the recent changes to DOC's policy, DOC should end its current punitive segregation policy of time owed and terminate all required time owed when an individual leaves DOC custody; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls on the New York City Department of Correction to end the practice of placing individuals returning to City jails into punitive segregation, also known as solitary confinement, to complete time owed.
WJH
LS 2385
8/12/14