‘When will it end?’ Protesters denounce use of solitary confinement

Many New Yorkers now know what it was prefer to be alone for lengthy intervals of time whereas quarantining throughout the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, however those that have lived via solitary confinement affirmed that it is nothing in comparison with the hell of Rikers Island’s isolation.

Layleen Polanco, Kalief Browder and Benjamin van Zandt — all victims of the cruel actuality behind solitary confinement and but, this type of punishment nonetheless exists.

“When will it end,” households of incarcerated people and people who have served time themselves cried out at a rally within the shadow of Metropolis Corridor on Nov. 23, organized by #HALTsolitary and Jails Motion Coalition. Kin shared the fixed worry by which they stay, terrified for his or her family members locked away in an antiquated system that makes use of isolation as a disciplinary mannequin.

Sister of Layleen Polanco, Melania Brown honors her sister’s reminiscence. Photograph by Dean Moses

For years, Mayor Invoice de Blasio swore on the names of a number of people who’ve perished in solitary confinement, together with Polanco — a transgender girl who died whereas in custody — vowing to finish this inhuman kind of punishment; nevertheless, with the implementation of the Danger Administration Accountability System (RMAS), advocates proceed to state that it’s the identical follow, however underneath one other identify.

“The mayor made a promise; he invoked my sister’s name in doing so!  He promised that he would end solitary confinement and all he did was switch the name, something that’s been going on way before our time. Our ancestors fought this fight, and all they ever did was change the name with no real change behind it. My sister deserves to be here today,” stated Melania Brown, sister of Layleen Polanco, “It is time that the mayor truly end solitary confinement.”

Brown shared that her household has not celebrated Thanksgiving nor put up a Christmas tree for the reason that passing of their Polanco.

“No one should be mourning on Christmas. For my sister I will continue to show up,” Brown stated.

“Free our people.” Photograph by Dean Moses

Though the vacations are in sight, those that swore to combat say they will proceed for so long as it takes. Demanding that solitary confinement finish and the “decarceration” of metropolis jails only one hour earlier than the New York Metropolis Council hosted it’s hybrid Said Assembly inside Tuesday, protesters brandished indicators and known as out legislators.

“Does the mayor know how many have died in solitary this year? Do you New Yorkers know how many have died in solitary this year?” Minister Dr. Victoria Phillips cried out on the rally, “Fourteen people have died in jail this year. Not all of them were solitary but were in inhumane conditions, treated barbarically and denied their basic rights.”

Solitary confinement creates a compelled isolation of one particular person, which might be for a choose quantity of time (hours, days, weeks, months and even years), away from the final incarcerated inhabitants. For many years skilled sources just like the Brennan Middle for Justice have discovered this type of punishment to be counterproductive, exhibiting by no means that it has led to a lower in jail violence. In reality, many human rights advocates have discovered this excessive isolation to trigger/exacerbate psychological points.

“The majority of people who end up in solitary confinement, unfortunately, have a mental health condition. So who are we arresting? Who are we putting in our jails? If not our vulnerable population from our community,” Phillips stated.

Minister Dr. Victoria Phillips stands outdoors Metropolis Corridor with a number of indicators. Photograph by Dean Moses

Whereas in June 2021, the Humane Options to Solitary Confinement Act (HALT) was handed, it limits the abuses behind this type of punishment (with a promise of at the least 10 hours a day trip of cell time and 7 hours of significant engagement). Activists are calling for an finish to the follow and the general decarceration of people from metropolis jails, many of whom on the rally declare are merely awaiting trial and haven’t been convicted of a criminal offense but.

Assemblymember Emily Gallagher was one of many elected officers who witnessed the heinous situations on Rikers Island, and whereas she shared it led to a lot wanted media consideration, it has not prompted the modifications she has deemed crucial.

Meeting member Emily Gallagher says she has not forgotten what she say at Rikers Island. Photograph by Dean Moses

“I am here to renew my commitment to you all and remind you that I have not forgotten what I saw at Rikers Island, and I am continuing to fight behind the scenes and I am going to go back to Rikers when they least expect it to bring to light what is going on,” Assemblymember Gallagher stated.

amNewYork reached out to the mayor’s workplace for remark and is awaiting a response. 

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