ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a dramatic reform in the use of special housing for prison inmate discipline.
Following two years of negotiations, Cuomo says the “groundbreaking agreement” will change the use of Special Housing Units by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in New York State.
“This package of reforms will result in a safer correctional system, as well as a fairer and more humane response for inmates who engage in misconduct,” said Governor Cuomo. “This groundbreaking agreement with the NYCLU should serve as a model for other states across the nation to follow in reforming the use of solitary confinement. From working to raise the age, to breaking down re-entry barriers for the formerly incarcerated, to today’s agreement, I am proud that we are continuing to create a safer and smarter correctional environment in New York State.”
Early in 2014, the State, along with the New York Civil Liberties Union, entered into an Interim Agreement related to policy initiatives. These initiatives included creating and implementing sanction guidelines, ending solitary confinement for juveniles, creating a presumption against solitary confinement for pregnant inmates and providing a different placement for inmates with cognitive impairments.
George Camp, Co-Executive Director of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, said, “This settlement agreement demonstrates that New York will be making widely accepted progressive changes in how restrictive housing units will be managed. As in the past, New York has shown that it is leading the way with its reforms of the mentally ill in special housing units, and that they can successfully make major changes in policy, training and implementation. This agreement certainly points to a continuation of implementing what’s best for corrections not only in New York but throughout the country. I am certain that it will bring about a disciplinary system that will produce safer correctional facilities in which staff to work and inmates to live.”
More details of the reform include a Step Down unit, a substance abuse program and the removal of a restricted diet as a disciplinary sanction.