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Governor signs bill ending long-term solitary confinement

Under the new law, prisons and jails will not be allowed to hold inmates in solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to end long-term solitary confinement in state prisons and jails. 

Under the new law, prisons and jails will not be allowed to hold inmates in solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days. Solitary confinement will be banned entirely for several categories of prisoners including minors, people over 55, pregnant inmates and those with disabilities. 

Cuomo signed the legislation late Wednesday. He said Thursday he looked forward to ushering in "a safer, more just Empire State.” The bill will take effect in a year.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued this statement after the bill was signed: 

The signing into law of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act marks a historic day for our state and for our criminal justice system, and recognizes the fundamental human rights to which we all are entitled. The evidence is clear – solitary confinement is detrimental to a person’s mental health and wellbeing and does little to increase safety. Prior to this law, New York did not have a limit on how long a person could spend in solitary confinement. Some individuals have spent months, years and even decades in segregated confinement. This is inhumane and has no place in our state. This law will change that by limiting the amount of time a person can spend in solitary confinement, ending the practice entirely for vulnerable populations, and getting those that need it vital mental health screenings. This law recognizes the fundamental humanity in everyone, and we will continue working to right the wrongs in our criminal justice system, and ensure that every New Yorker is treated with dignity and respect.

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