ALBANY N.Y. (NEWS10) — The State Legislature has passed the HALT Act on Thursday, which would put a 15-day limit on the amount of time inmates could spend in solitary confinement, and eliminate it altogether for vulnerable populations. Advocates are celebrating its passage and calling on the governor to sign the bill immediately.
On Sunday, a rally was held outside the Executive Mansion in Albany.
Over a dozen people stood outside the mansion, urging the governor to sign the bill into law. “Solitary confinement—which is torture—it causes such a denigration of someone’s mental health. None of our communities are safe with this practice being done here,” says TeAna Taylor, Organizer of HALT Solitary Campaign.
Michelle White drove from Syracuse to make sure her voice is heard in Albany. “I know correction officers think it’s a tool, but if the tool is not working, then I say we need to replace it and remove it,” she says.
The Halt Solitary Confinement Act will improve conditions of isolation in jails and prisons, limit the time one can spend in segregated confinement, and create more humane and effective alternatives.
Legacie Wright is an advocate with Center for Community Alternatives, she helped organize the rally. Legacie has been advocating for change since 2018, when the bill was passed in the State Assembly. “Personally for me, I was in that predicament several years ago and it’s inhumane, it messes with your mental health,” Wright says.
“I am cautiously optimistic, it would mean everything to the families in New York State if Governor Cuomo signs this bill,” says Michelle White.
The governor is expected to act on this bill before the end of March.