Mother advocates for HALT act, union rep calls to repeal law

With mid-term elections less than four months away, the union representing New York’s Correctional Officers is calling for the repeal of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act. The Act limits solitary confinement durations, but those in favor of the Act say it’s necessary.

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News Channel 13 spoke to a Darlene McDay, who is both a mom and member of HALTsolitary campaign and for her this law staying in place is very personal. “My son, basically had to sit in a tiny cell, by himself, with barely any contact; only the people that walked by, and not be able to make any phone calls, and barely taking showers,” she said.

McDay tells us her son, Dante Taylor, died in 2017 while he was in solitary confinement. “Solitary confinement is torture, she said. I’m a nurse practitioner myself so I know the mental harm that isolation does to people. I think even the public has gotten a taste of what isolation can do to a person, right with COVID.”

Vice President of the NYSCOPBA Mid-Hudson Region, Chris Moreau says since April 1st there has been a 33% increase in assaults in facilities across the state. “Since HALT has been enacted we have seen the savagery that’s taken place behind the scene get so much worse,” he said.

On August 1st the Coxsackie Correctional Facility was on lockdown after the facility reported multiple staff were injured. The report states an officer noticed an inmate attempting to smuggle food out of the mess hall. The inmate ignored orders and was forced on the floor. As things escalated, additional staff were called and other inmates got involved resulting in one sergeant and six officers being injured.

“There’s no deterrent for inmates to behave because there’s no consequences for their actions,” said Moreau.

Darlene said she she understands the need for separation if there is a fight, but says leaving someone isolated for an unlimited amount of time should not be allowed. “I look at that and I nearly want to cry. Food, we’re talking about food, which is a basic human need,” she said.