Children’s Rights Calls On Board of Correction to Prohibit Solitary Confinement for Those Under 25 at New York City Jails

Organization Testifies at December 19 Board of Correction Hearing

(New York) – Julia Davis, staff attorney at national advocacy organization Children’s Rights, will join the Legal Aid Society, the Urban Justice Center and other organizations and individuals testifying at a public hearing on Friday that will examine the effects of solitary confinement and consider the City’s proposed segregated housing at Rikers Island. Children’s Rights is calling on the New York City Board of Correction to prohibit solitary confinement or the use of “Enhanced Supervision Housing” for youth under the age of 25.

Children’s Rights, which advocates for foster care reform across the country, maintains that solitary confinement can have a serious, long-term impact on the cognitive and social abilities of some of the most vulnerable young people in society. According to news reports, 48 percent of the 5,400 children arrested and detained in New York City in 2010 had previous or current foster care involvement. Many of the young people at Rikers Island have a history with the child welfare system. Because brain development is still underway in the 20s, young people face serious risk of harm if subjected to excessive isolation, including increased risk for mental illness, anxiety, rage, self-mutilation and suicide. This is particularly true for those who have experienced severe trauma before or during their time in foster care.

Currently 16 and 17 year olds in New York City are excluded from solitary confinement. However 18 to 25 year olds may be held in solitary for prolonged periods and would be eligible for placement in proposed Enhanced Supervision Housing Units (ESHUs), a new form of high-security units that would restrict young people’s access to visitation and would not provide for screening to exclude young people with mental illness. Ms. Davis is available for interviews on the impact of solitary confinement and segregated housing on vulnerable youth.

Who: New York City Jails Action Coalition, Legal Aid of New York City, Urban Justice Center, Children’s Rights and other organizations and individuals

What: Public Hearing on solitary confinement and segregated housing in New York City jails

Where: 455 First Avenue between East 26th and East 27th Streets, New York, NY 10016

When: Friday, December 19, 2014. Rally at 8:00 am; hearing begins at 9:00 am in ground floor auditorium