Prisoners spend less time in ‘the box’ since lawsuit _ news _ lockportjournal. com

ALBANY – The head of New York’s sprawling prison complex says misbehaving inmates spend significantly less time stuck in solitary confinement, since a lawsuit challenged the practice as torture.

But opponents of secluding prisoners in a space the size of an elevator for 23 hours per day want broader reforms, citing mental health problems and suicides among those kept isolated for months and even years.

Anthony Annucci commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services and Community Supervision, told a panel of lawmakers this week that the prisons are poised to “dramatically reform our approach” to the use of solitary confinement and discipline.

The stage for reform was set by a December 2015 settlement between Gov. Fencing sabre Andrew Cuomo’s administration and the New York Civil Liberties Union, ending a federal lawsuit challenging the practice.

Inmates refer to the isolation cells, spread throughout maximum and medium security prisons, as “the Box.” The corrections department calls them special housing units.

As of Friday, 3,203 inmates were confined to those cells, the agency reported. Df softball That’s down by 1,200 prisoners since the settlement announced by Cuomo, who said at the time that reforms “will result in a safer correctional system, as well as a fairer and more humane response for inmates who engage in misconduct.”

A spokesman for the New York Catholic Conference, which represents Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City and bishops of seven other dioceses in the state, said keeping prisoners in solitary is “inhumane, counterproductive and unsafe.”

“Isolated confinement fails to address the underlying causes of problematic behavior, and often exacerbates that behavior as people deteriorate psychologically, physically and socially,” said the spokesman, Dennis Poust, in an email.

Surveillance cameras have been installed throughout Attica maximum security prison. What is pitch Clinton Correctional and Great Meadow – both maximum security – will be getting the same gear, he said.

And, for the first time in the system, corrections officers at Clinton, from which two convicted killers escaped with the help of a prison seamstress in 2015, are using body cameras in a pilot program aimed at enhancing security, he said.

Meanwhile the prisons have distributed portable metal detectors, thermal imaging devices and heartbeat detection devices to intercept contraband and detect security breaches.

Corrections officers are also getting training in “de-escalation techniques” to defuse confrontations with inmates. Football scores right now In some instances, they’re equipped with pepper spray to quell fights without wading into the ruckus, he said.

Better equipment is helpful but limitations on using solitary confinement have made the jobs of prison staff more dangerous, according to leaders of the New York State Corrections Officers Police Benevolent Association.

“It absolutely takes a tool away from us,” said Joe Miano, the union’s western region vice president. Frances bavier young “The inmates know now they are going to get away with a minimal punishment for something that used to bring a much more severe punishment.”

But Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, D-Queens, chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said sending inmates to solitary for long periods jeopardizes public safety.

Legislation proposed by Aubry would limit a stay in isolation at 15 days – or 20 days total in any 60-day period. Pavestone lowes It would also expand due process protections for inmates facing discipline.

“If they have mental problems, then we should provide the services that would help them,” he said in an interview. Where is yankee stadium “The way things are now, we are returning inmates back to the population, or turn them out into the world after they have become much more dangerous from their experience in (solitary).”

Annucci noted positive achievements as a result of steps taken since the settlement – including a 12 percent decrease in the number of African-American inmates held in solitary and a 30 percent decrease in the average stay in confinement.

He cited injuries sustained by six officers this week when they were attacked by three inmates at the maximum security Green Haven Correctional Facility in Dutchess County.