A push to end solitary confinement

May 16, 2018 01:53 PM

ALBANY – In the Legislative Office Building on Wednesday there was a solitary confinement cell – and supporters to end solitary put Gov. Cuomo inside. A cardboard cutout of him.

Advocates from HALT: Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement invited the governor and other lawmakers to spend time in the 6'x9' replica cell. It was built by Doug van Zandt, whose son killed himself while in solitary confinement. Van Zandt has a lawsuit pending against the state.

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"People think that it's someplace that you can just go to kind of like your bedroom and you can just chill out for a while. It's not," van Zandt said. "If you go inside, there's no windows in there. It's an absolutely punitive, cruel environment.

"I want people to look in there, close the door, listen to the sounds and then think would I put my own dog in a room like this for 23-24 hours a day?"

Supporters of solitary confinement say it's an important tool for the Department of Corrections and without it, prisons will be less safe than they are now.

HALT pointed to Rick Raemisch, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, who spent 24 hours in a solitary cell. When he got out, Raemisch made reforms.

New York's Solitary Confinement Act (A.3080B / S.4784A) has more than 100 supporters in the Legislature and more than 180 organizational supporters across the state.


WNYT Staff

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