New York City Council Defies Mayor, Pushes for Ban on Solitary Confinement

The New York City Council is expected to approve a bill that would ban solitary confinement, despite continued opposition by Mayor Eric Adams and the union representing correction officers, Emma G. Fitzsimmons reports for the New York Times. Mayor Eric Adams has argued since he took office two years ago that isolating detainees is an important tool to help protect jail workers and detainees. However, a group of 11 Congress members wrote a letter last week supporting the bill and the city’s public advocate, Jumaane Williams, who is a sponsor of the bill, said that isolating detainees was cruel and that the bill still allowed for people to be separated when needed.

Benny Boscio, the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, condemned the Council’s efforts and accused them of “protecting our most violent population instead of protecting us.” He said that there had been more than 6,500 assaults against correction officers over the last three years, including 51 sexual assaults against female officers. At a hearing in September 2022, Louis A. Molina, then the head of the Correction Department, said that 117 people were in restrictive housing at the time. The deaths of several people in solitary confinement at Rikers over the last decade prompted elected officials to keep pushing for the ban. If approved, the bill would New York the largest American city to ban solitary confinement in city jails in most cases, part of a national campaign to end a practice that critics say amounts to torture.

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