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Judge rules New York state prisons violate law by holding inmates in solitary confinement too long

todayJune 22, 2024 5

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The New York state prison system has been violating state law by holding inmates in solitary confinement for longer than permitted, according to a state judge.In a decision filed Thursday, State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant said the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, or DOCCS, did not offer sufficient evidence against accusations that it has not adhered to the restrictions on solitary confinement outlined in state law.”DOCCS has the responsibility to submit an administrative record that supports their actions and they have failed to meet this burden,” Bryant wrote.The ruling comes after the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York filed a class action lawsuit last year alleging DOCCS frequently ignored the state’s Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act that was signed into law in 2021 by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.LAW SCHOOL DEANS SIGN LETTER CHAMPIONING CONSTITUTION, CALL ON STUDENTS TO DISAGREE RESPECTFULLY”No one is above the law — that includes prison officials,” the NYCLU said in a statement posted Thursday on X. “We’ll be watching closely to ensure DOCCS starts complying with the law.”DOCCS said in a statement to The Associated Press that it is reviewing the judge’s decision, and pointed to some recent changes made by the department since Commissioner Daniel Martuscello took over a year ago. This includes updates to the agency’s segregated confinement policies, such as additional steps of review like the new “Confinement Justification Record Form” that must be completed and signed by all review officers, hearing officers and superintendents.Solitary confinement in most cases is limited to three consecutive days, or six days in any given 30-day period, according to state law.JUDGE RULES FEDERAL AGENCY CANNOT FORCE LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI TO OFFER EMPLOYEE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ABORTIONSHowever, prisoners can face solitary confinement for longer periods of time for “heinous and destructive” actions, including injuring someone or acquiring a deadly weapon. Those cases allow an extended limit of 15 consecutive days, or 20 days in a 60-day period.In the lawsuit, the advocacy groups accused DOCCS of holding inmates in solitary confinement even though they fail to meet the narrow criteria outlined in the law.One plaintiff, Luis Garcia, said he was sentenced to 730 days in solitary confinement after throwing what was believed to be bodily fluids at guards, which the advocacy groups say did not meet the criteria for solitary confinement.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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