ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — With a rise in violence in correctional facilities, advocates and Republican lawmakers call to repeal the HALT Act. The bill was implemented in April and restricts the use of solitary confinement to 15 days in correctional facilities.
According to the Vera Institute of Justice they agree with “a vast body of research that shows the serious detrimental effects on mental and physical health of spending 22 to 24 hours per day alone and idle in a cell the size of a parking space.”
And some long term psychological impacts of solitary confinement include obsessive thoughts, depression, PTSD and psychosis which is why advocates of the bill say the HALT Act was necessary. But correctional facilities say inmates are using this to their advantage. Recent data from the Corrections & Community Supervision cites a spike in violence since the bill was put into effect in April.
However Co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Luis Sepulveda says that’s not really the case, “Anything that you want to write up as an assault to corrections officers you can write up as an assault so if an inmate walks by and blows too hard in the direction of the corrections officer that’s considered a violent act against a corrections officer.”
But Mike Powers says the violence is quite serious. Powers is President of NYS Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association, “We’ve had officers faces opened with razor blades, we’ve had officers stabbed, we’ve got serious hip injuries, knee injuries, concussions, broken eye orbitals,” said Powers.
He also says that the public has the wrong notion of what solitary confinement is and welcomes lawmakers to visit those facilities. Additionally Powers says he wasn’t given the proper resources when the bill passed, “They created the program, they never spoke with us the policy makers, the stakeholders so to speak they never spoke to any of us. They just ran with this, They didn’t consider the infrastructure changes that needed to happen inside of our state facilities,” he said.
Powers wants a full repeal, but says in order for HALT to run properly they would need more staffing.