Statement on passage of HALT Solitary Confinement Act
Published on March 18th, 2021
Following is a statement by Dennis Poust, interim executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference:
“Today is a historic day in New York, with the passage of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act in the state Senate, two days after it passed in the state Assembly.
“Simply put, long-term solitary confinement is torture. The deprivation, lack of normal human interaction, and extreme idleness fundamentally alter the brain and can cause immense psychological suffering, self-harm, and often lead to suicide. Issues with which people enter segregated confinement — mental illness, addiction, anger, despair — are only exacerbated by extreme isolation. Additionally, a disproportionate number of those in solitary confinement are people of color.
“The New York State Bishops have long supported reform of the state’s harsh solitary confinement policies, and we are grateful to Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assemblymember Jeff Aubry and Senator Julia Salazar, as well as all who voted for this legislation. We also congratulate Jerome Wright, statewide organizer of the #HALTSolitary campaign, and all of the advocates whose tireless efforts made this day possible.
“The legislation now goes to Governor Cuomo’s desk, and we strongly urge him to sign it immediately.”
The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in public policy matters.