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Letter to Onondaga Sheriff’s Office on solitary confinement related to COVID-19

The NYCLU wrote a letter to Sheriff Conway to express serious concern over reports that the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office (“OCSO”) has responded to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases at the Onondaga County Justice Center (the “Justice Center”) by subjecting hundreds of individuals to conditions akin to solitary confinement. Imposing near-total, in-cell lockdown for an indeterminate period is an inappropriate means to control the spread of COVID-19. 

As accounts from inside the facility already portend, the inevitable consequence of confining people alone in small cells for 47.5 out of every 48 hours is obvious: a marked increase in the risk of suicide and other mental health crises among incarcerated individuals. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic does not absolve OCSO of its obligation to respect the legal rights of hose in its custody.

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