City to begin effort to phase out solitary confinement in New York jails

Screengrab/Department of Correction Surveillance Video

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged on Monday to end solitary confinement in New York City jails.

The Department of Correction will not place incarcerated New Yorkers suffering from underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, liver disease, asthma, seizures or with some with a physical disability into solitary confinement, also referred to as punitive segregation.

The new initiative comes two days after the city announced it will discipline 17 corrections officers involved in the death of Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old transgender woman who died after having a seizure in solitary confinement while on Rikers Island last year.

“Layleen Polanco should not have been in Rikers to begin with, Layleen Polanco should not have been in solitary confinement and lord knows she deserves justice,” said de Blasio. “We can’t bring her back but we can make changes so that no one else goes through such a tragedy.”

De Blasio is also appointing Vice-Chair of the Board of Correction Stanley Richards, the Commissioner of Corrections Cynthia Brann, President of Just Leadership USA DeAnna Hoskins and a yet-to-be-named Corrections Officers Benevolent Association union rep to a four-person working group tasked with figuring out a city plan to end punitive segregation.

This story first appeared on amny.com.