Dear Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo:
As a voter and a constituent, I wanted to express my urgent desire for solitary confinement reform that will end this meritless and tortuous practice as we know it. In New York State there are currently over 5,000 individuals subject to state-sanctioned torture, spending 23 hours a day totally isolated, deprived of light, air, human interaction and dignity. Solitary confinement is a failed policy on all levels; it does not make our prisons safer, it does not rehabilitate or help individuals, it does not save the state money. All it does is exacerbate suffering and stunt the growth of individuals who need support and rehabilitation.
Given your leadership on many civil and human rights issues, combined with your responsibility to oversee the entire Correctional System in New York State you have the power and capacity to end solitary confinement for good.
The Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (Senate Bill 2659 | Assembly Bill 4401) proposed by Senator Bill Perkins and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry is a rational and balanced bill that will allow individuals to truly rehabilitate themselves through affirmative interventions and supportive programs that address core issues—as contrasted with the old school, open-ended isolation model which has no positive or public safety attributes whatsoever. It provides essential due process protections, ends open-ended solitary confinement stays, exempts vulnerable populations from the reach of isolation and re-purposes our system from one that simply punishes to one that heals and allows for growth.
In the name of Martin Sostre, and so many other brave and courageous advocates who endured years of dehumanizing solitary confinement simply because they advocated for basic rights as human beings—including the right to free exercise of religion and freedom of speech—I urge you to forever change New York’s policy on solitary confinement.