New York City Officials and Advocates Push for Change to the "Culture of Brutality" on Rikers Island

Update, 8/22/14:  On Thursday, August 21, the New York City Council passed legislation introduced by Councilman Danny Dromm of Queens that would require corrections officials to release quarterly reports documenting information about inmates being held in solitary confinement at Rikers Island jail. Presenting this information to the New York City Board of Corrections would create increased transparency […]

Doing "Bing Time": Memories of a Mental Health Worker in Rikers Island's Solitary Confinement Unit

The following post is a chapter from an unpublished book by Mary Buser, who worked in various capacities in the mental health system on Rikers Island. In Buser’s own words: “I worked in the Rikers Mental Health Department as a psychiatric social worker for five and a half years, leaving Rikers in 2000. I started off as a student intern […]

New York Lawmakers Introduce Bill to End Long-Term Solitary Confinement

“I’m here in a steel coffin,” Jessica Casanova’s nephew wrote to her from an isolation cell. “I’m breathing, but I’m dead.” Her nephew, she said, “has never been the same” after spending time in solitary confinement, and his experience compelled her to speak out for the thousands held in extreme isolation in New York’s prison and jails. Casanova was one of half a […]

As New York City Jails Amend Their Solitary Confinement Practices, Abuses on Rikers Island Continue

In early January the Wall Street Journal reported that the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) had ceased using solitary confinement as a form of punishment for people with mental illness. The last of the Mental Health Assessment Unit for Infracted Inmates (MHAUII) units was shuttered on December 31, replaced by a two-tiered system said to […]

Reports Condemn Solitary Confinement in New York City's Jails, As Officials Weigh Its Future

Two recent reports provide a scathing picture of how solitary confinement is employed as a routine disciplinary measure on Rikers Island and in other city jails. The reports are particularly critical of the use of extreme isolation and deprivation on individuals with psychological disabilities, including mentally ill teenagers. The two reports were prepared for the […]

Demonstrators Protest Solitary Confinement and Brutality in New York City's Jails

Yesterday morning, members of the Jails Action Coalition (JAC), a newly formed grassroots activist group that opposes the expansion of solitary confinement and other abuses in New York City’s jails, held a demonstration outside a meeting of the city’s Board of Corrections. Chanting, “We demand prisoners’ rights, together we stand, together we fight!” and “Jobs and education, not incarceration!” protesters […]