New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams pushed back on City Council lawmakers on Tuesday, Dec 21st who are once again pushing a bill that would bar the use of solitary confinement in city jails.
“For people to continue to say that Eric supports solitary confinement, that is just a lie, I support punitive segregation,” Adams shared.
Many people are responding to what Adams said at a Thursday, Dec. 16th press conference – where he appointed Louis Molina as the first Latino Commissioner of Corrections – that he will bring “punitive segregation” back to Rikers Island jail. At the press conference last week, Adams warned the inmates on Rikers Island to start behaving because he plans to immediately reverse outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy against solitary confinement.
“I am not going to be in a city where dangerous people assault innocent people, go to jail and assault more people,” Adams continued to tell reporters after an unrelated press conference in front of Rockefeller Center. “You cannot have a jail system where someone sexually assaults a staffer, slash an inmate and then say it is all right.”
Adams – a retired New York Police Department chief – went on to rebuke the 29 members of the City Council who signed a letter sent Tuesday that demanded passage of the legislation, arguing they were “romanticizing this issue.”
“There is a body of people that are coming into the City Council, they have no desire in moving our City forward,” he added. “Their desire is to be disruptive. What am I going to do? I’m going to ignore them. I’m going to stay committed, undistracted and I’m going to grind.”
In the letter the 29 incoming members of the new-look City Council stated, “Solitary confinement is considered by the United Nations, human rights organizations and medical and mental health experts to be a form of torture,” they wrote. “It causes intense suffering and has taken the lives of countless New Yorkers. New York City will never torture our way to safety,” it concluded.
Despite the public rebuke from the between a band of rookie councilmembers, Eric Adams stands by his words unapologetically and says if you are going to quote him, make sure you quote him correctly.
The NYS HALT bill was signed in March. It terminates LONG Term isolation… instead it puts in Place humane alternatives to end the practice of endlessly and without accountability the punishment of incarcerated individuals for minor or political offenses. Corrections, like civic policing in general, can behave badly behind closed doors. The data is there. Each year between 80-100,000 are put into solitary. States have implemented humane reform. NY state has worked for reform. Solitary has limits. 14days established by the international body for human rights and with other reform requirements.
Nobody disagrees with the need for the separation of people who are violent. The discussion is about what and how long is acceptable.
Please do not make this an either or discussion. I believe Eric Adams himself talked about the humane treatment of incarcerated and corrections officers. He talks about emotional intelligence. Trapping people into parking size boxes for weeks-years and decades – with lights glaring 24 hours a day and Zero human contact for minor offenses that piss off corrections officers is unacceptable. I ask the readers of BW to learn more. It’s not either/or.
Working in Prison as a Chaplain, I support Segregation of violent individuals and predators. They are dangerous in and out of incarceration. True criminals know they are criminals and continue their criminal behavior wherever they are.
Congratulations Mr. Molina, Westchester County Dept Of Corrections didn’t think that you were good enough, but they say that when one door closes another one opens, wish you nothing but the best
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