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NYC Poised to Ban Solitary Confinement in City Jails

A bill introduced in June that would ban solitary confinement in New York City jails appears primed for passage, with a veto-proof two-thirds of New York City's 51-seat legislative body supporting it, NBC reports. The bill, which is headed for a hearing in the next few weeks, comes amid increased pressure over deaths at the Rikers Island jail complex and other city jails, which total 13 so far this year. At least 16 people incarcerated in the city's jails died last year, the most since 2013.

The legislation would prohibit inmates from being held in isolation in a cell for more than two hours during the day in a 24-hour period or for more than eight hours at night to sleep. Inmates could be held for longer in order to de-escalate conflict or if they pose an immediate danger to another person, but that can't exceed more than four hours in a 24-hour period. Staff and mental health professionals must also interact with the inmates at least once an hour, with medical checks every 15 minutes. In a news conference Monday, Comptroller Brad Lander said the Department of Correction is not expected to meet its deadline to close Rikers by 2027, part of an effort to replace the complex with what New York City says would be "safer modern jails." Last year, the Board of Correction, an independent oversight board of New York City's jail system, voted to end solitary confinement. But politicians and activists are adamant that is still occurring.


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