Eliminate Solitary Confinement as Routine Punishment

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Target: New York Legislative Committee

Goal: Support lawsuit that aims to eliminate solitary confinement as a routine punishment for minor, nonviolent offenses in New York

While the use of solitary confinement is controversial, it remains a prominent fixture in the United State’s prison system. Most prisons use solitary confinement as punishment, not for the crimes that landed an inmate in prison, but for offenses committed once prisoners are behind bars. If an inmate is repeatedly violent against guards or other inmates, solitary confinement is often deemed necessary to protect the people around them. A lawsuit recently filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, however, asserts that New York is misusing solitary confinement. Support this lawsuit, and ensure that solitary confinement is used sparingly and appropriately in New York.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of a 30-year-old inmate with a history of mental illness. The inmate, Leroy Peoples, claims to have been repeatedly sentenced to months, and even years, in solitary confinement for nonviolent offences. His first stint in solitary was for unauthorized possession of nutritional supplements. The supplements were later found to be on sale at the prison commissary, but Leroy spent six months in solitary confinement regardless. His second solitary confinement lasted for three years and was for possession of unauthorized legal materials. Both of these offenses were minor and nonviolent. Spending such a long time in solitary confinement is extremely taxing emotionally and mentally.

Leroy Peoples is not the only inmate to experience punitive prison sentencing. Between 2007 and 2011, 70,000 inmates received solitary punishments for offenses such as having an untidy jail cell, unfastened long hair, and not reporting an illness. These punishments are inappropriate for the offenses committed and are fiscally burdensome to the state. Sign the petition below, and urge the New York Legislature to accept the New York Civil Liberties Union‘s lawsuit. It is important that the legislative committee regulate when and for how long an inmate can be placed in solitary confinement.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear New York Legislative Committee,

The New York Civil Liberties Union recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of Leroy Peoples, an inmate in New York who spent over three years in solitary confinement. Peoples was placed in solitary for minor, nonviolent offenses. This excessive use of solitary confinement has become common in New York. The overuse of solitary confinement is both unnecessarily punitive to inmates and a financial burden on the state.

In the span of four years, 70,000 New York inmates spent time in solitary confinement for offenses such as having an untidy jail cell, unfastened long hair, and not reporting an illness. This type of rule breaking is minor and doesn’t warrant excessive punishment, yet New York inmates continue to experience erratic and irrational chastisement. I urge you to pass the lawsuit, and to regulate when and for how long an inmate can be sentenced for solitary confinement.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: geograph.org.uk

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120 Signatures

  • Eric von Borstel
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