New limits will be placed on the use of solitary confinement in New York's prisons and jails as Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Wednesday signed the measure into law.
Solitary confinement in prisons and jails will be limited to 15 days and banned altogether for incarcerated people who are in vulnerable populations.
The new law will take effect in a year and will likely face some changes: Cuomo attached an approval memorandum that often contains caveats or conditions for approval.
In the memo, Cuomo called for amendments to the bill, which he said the Legislature had agreed to take up. The changes, he wrote, "are necessary to ensure that processes are in place to address all possible circumstances where an individual may need to be separated from other incarcerated individuals."
Criminal justice advocates had called the use of solitary confinement to torture, and over the last decade had waged a campaign for the passage and approval of the bill, known as the HALT Act.
"This has been a long and hard struggle," said Jerome Wright, the statewide organizer of the #HALTSolitary Campaign. "Over the past eight years of pushing for HALT’s enactment, we have seen far too many of our loved ones taken by solitary confinement."
Advocates on Thursday evening continued to their push to the final hour to have Cuomo sign the measure amid reports of an incarcerated person being sent to solitary for marijuana use.
"It causes immense suffering and destroys people’s minds, bodies, and souls," Wright said. "It should have no place in New York State or the rest of this country or world. I know because I survived it."