Albany, N.Y., May 8, 2019 / 15:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).
New York’s faith leaders gathered in protest of solitary confinement this week, pushing for a bill that seeks more humane ways to treat prisoners.
“We believe solitary confinement is a form of torture, and it has been vastly overused historically in New York State. Even with some recent reforms, not enough has been done,” Dennis Poust, communications director for the New York State Catholic Conference, told CNA.
Thirty-five faith leaders and 30 others rallied in support of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Confinement Act in the New York Capitol Building in Albany on May 7.
Attendees included representatives from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, T'ruah the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and New York State Council of Churches - a coalition of numerous denominations.
The New York State Catholic Conference was not present at the event, but it expressed strong support for the HALT bill, which has not yet been debated on the Senate or House floor. The conference issued a memorandum in support of the act in January.
The bill seeks to “limit the time an inmate can spend in segregated confinement, end the segregated confinement of vulnerable people, restrict the criteria that can result in such confinement, improve conditions of confinement, and create more humane and effective alternatives to such confinement,” according to the statement.
If passed, the law would restrict solitary confinement to 15 days or less. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has denounced solitary confinement that exceeds more than 15 days as a form of torture.