The New York City Board of Correction yesterday approved the fourth request from the Department of Correction to delay the end of solitary confinement for young adults at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex. In January 2015, the department committed to ending solitary for young adults by January 2016, but today there are 16 people age 19 to 21 still in solitary on Rikers. The board granted an additional three months before the last young person must be removed but placed conditions on this extension, including weekly reporting on young people in solitary, more daily recreation time for them and a written approval process for confining additional young people in solitary.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which advocated for the end of solitary for young adults at Rikers Island, delivered testimony at the hearing before the vote on the extension. The following statement is attributable to NYCLU Deputy Advocacy Director Ruthie Epstein:
“We are disappointed that the deadline to remove young people from solitary confinement on Rikers Island has been extended a fourth time. Every day that a young person spends in solitary confinement is a day where they are subject to brutal conditions that pose a risk to their mental health and may damage them irreversibly.”
“The Department of Correction has not demonstrated that removing young adults from solitary confinement at Rikers has, on its own, increased jail violence. There is no question that we must get young people out of solitary confinement as quickly as possible.”
“With the new conditions placed on the extension of solitary for young people, we will continue to monitor the Department of Correction as it makes progress toward ending solitary once and for all for young people on Rikers Island.”