Earlier this month, New York enacted a law that considers prolonged solitary confinement to amount to the crime of torture, a fact that medical experts, human rights defenders and prison survivors have long denounced for many years.
In her article published in the Washington Post, Tami Gregg, deputy director of the National Prisons Project for the Civil Liberties Union, and Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Union in New York, Donna Lieberman, said: New York has become the first state to codify the United Nations rules for Nelson Mandela, which prohibit the use of solitary confinement after 15 consecutive days. Although this great measure is counted for New York, it should not stop there, and torture should be prevented in any country around the world.
The United States has long been among the world’s toughest countries to use solitary confinement. Before the emergence of Covid-19, about 60,000 to 100,000 people were held in solitary confinement on a daily basis in American prisons, a number that is almost equal to or more than the total number of prison inmates in many major countries, including France, Turkey and Spain. The epidemic has led to a sharp increase in the use of solitary confinement in the United States, with more than 300 people detained in these cruel and inhuman conditions as of June 2020.
The two writers consider in their article that solitary confinement is an indictment within the criminal legal system of the United States, and its use is considered permissible, especially as it is a microcosm of the ways in which American prisons are created to strip people of their humanity and terrify them, without any interest in their rehabilitation, or their ability to reintegrate. In the community, or their safety or the safety of their families; Its harm is often particularly severe for pregnant women and non-whites, individuals with disabilities, youth and the elderly in prison and immigrants.
Although blacks make up only 18% of New York’s population, they made up 58% of the detainees held in solitary confinement in New York before the law banning it was passed. In neighboring Connecticut, where blacks and Hispanics make up only 29% of the population, this group held in solitary confinement was 85% as of 2019.
The two writers indicated that solitary confinement threatens the lives of black and Latino prisoners in particular, due to racism and prejudice that are mixed with the unchecked grip of power. In 2015, Calif Browder (22 years) tragically ended his life after two years of being beaten, and spent two years in solitary confinement, on Rikers Island in New York City, due to his false accusation of stealing a backpack.
In 2015, Jason Echevarria, 25, who had mental health problems, died in solitary confinement on Rikers Island after swallowing a bar of concentrated soap.
Fortunately, the HALT Act prohibits placing young people – like Browder – in solitary confinement, and bans him for those under the age of 22, and for people suffering from serious mental illnesses such as Echevaria. Conversely, many people like Browder and Echevaria remain vulnerable across the United States. Advertising
The two writers believe that long-term solitary confinement is a national and systemic injustice. In fact, a roadmap for reform was put in place, and for nearly a decade, solitary confinement survivors and their family members called for a halt to long-term solitary confinement in New York prisons.
The Biden administration would help pave the way for these reforms by finalizing new rules preventing prolonged solitary confinement for all persons in custody, by providing incentives for state governments to follow the same path.
The US criminal legal system has always permitted the perpetration of heinous crimes of violence, brutality, and intimidation of vulnerable detainees, and the systematic and discretionary use of solitary confinement is perhaps the most visible example of these violations.
On the other hand, after these latest measures were taken, New York showed that walking on the right track is possible, and that it is time for the rest of the country to follow in its footsteps.