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NYCLU says this kind of solitary confinement cell is widely used in New York's prisons, including Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone (Source: NYCLU)
NYCLU says this kind of solitary confinement cell is widely used in New York's prisons, including Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone (Source: NYCLU)

Report blasts NY prisons for use of solitary confinement

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The New York Civil Liberties Union says New York's prison system is using solitary confinement as a punishment far too often.

Last year, inmates in the state system were placed in "solitary" more than 13,000 times, according to a new study produced by the NYCLU.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Extreme isolation is excruciating. It is among the most extreme forms of punishment a human can force on another.
"Extreme isolation is excruciating.  It is among the most extreme forms of punishment a human can force on another," said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman, in a conference call with reporters.

"And in NY state, it's doled out far too often, for far too long, and with far too little process and safeguards against abuse."

Much of the report's criticism is leveled at Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone which has more than a thousand beds in solitary confinement cells.

State prison commissioner Brian Fischer issued a statement yesterday saying that solitary confinement is an important tool to help maintain discipline in prisons and to keep guards an inmates safe.

Brian Fischer, commissioner of New York's prison system, says a review of solitary confinement policies is underway. (Source:  NYS)
Brian Fischer, commissioner of New York's prison system, says a review of solitary confinement policies is underway. (Source: NYS)
"As society removes those individuals who commit crimes, so too must we remove from general population inmates who violate the Department’s code of conduct and who threaten the safety and security of our facilities," he argued.

"The possession of drugs, cell phones and weapons pose a serious threat within this and any other prison system."

But Fisher also said that an "intense review" of solitary confinement policies in state prisons began last month.

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