Solitary Confinement to End for Youngest at Rikers Island
Although experts have spoken for years about the devastating effects of solitary confinement on the mental health of adolescent prisoners, such seclusion has long been the primary form of punishment at the Rikers Island jail complex, where inmates as young as 16 can spend days, weeks and sometimes months locked in a cell for over 23 hours a day.
Now, amid increasingly vocal calls to improve conditions at Rikers, the New York City Correction Department has decided to eliminate solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates by the end of the year.
The decision was noted in an internal memo by the correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, to Mayor Bill de Blasio, that was obtained by The New York Times. It comes as the department attempts to face down sharp criticism of the often brutal treatment of inmates at Rikers Island, particularly adolescents and those with mental illnesses. …