Ending solitary confinement? Faith leaders advocate for that change in NYS

More than 100 faith leaders in a letter released Monday called for an end to solitary confinement in New York prisons.

The letter, released to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, pushes for what has been a key criminal justice law change in the state.

“Our approach to prisons needs to reflect our religious values, not the retributive ethos that prisons mostly embody,” the letter states. “People in prison do not stop being fully human, or lose their most basic human rights, when they lose their freedom.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers backed changes that would end cash bail requirements for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies and set in motion a plan to close up to three prisons next year.

“Solitary confinement has long been shown to cause intense suffering and devastating physical, mental, and behavioral harm. The risks of self-harm and suicide are dramatically increased for people in solitary,” the letter states. “As people of faith and conscience, we are morally outraged that New York continues to allow the use of solitary confinement. Action is needed now.”

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