Advocates, former convicts urge City Council to end solitary confinement at city jails
As safety concerns at Rikers Island continue to grow by the day, advocates, survivors and family members urged the City Council Friday to help end solitary confinement and de-carcerate city jails.
"Solitary confinement is absolute torture and Rikers Island is absolute torture," said Candie Johnson. She spent 1,122 days consecutively in solitary confinement and survived, despite multiple suicide attempts.
She shared testimony for the City Council's hearing on self-harm and suicide, one of many from impacted families who are fighting for change.
"Shut down Rikers. Not just Rikers. Shut down solitary confinement as a way to show humanity that we can do right by people," said Akeem Browder. His brother, Kalief Browder, spent three years on Rikers and took his own life shortly after being released.
Council Member Carlina Rivera is leading the charge for the passage of new laws to hold the Department of Correction accountable.
"This legislation would mandate the department publish all of its rules, policies and directives and will require a plan be put in place for medical appointments during lock-ins," Rivera explained
The DOC Commissioner Louis Molina said he's committed to providing access to health care to everyone in custody and the DOC will work to see if more information can be posted publicly.
"As a city, we need to support efforts for alternatives to incarceration. You have my continued commitment to improvement and reform," Molina said.
The city was ordered by a federal judge earlier this week to submit a plan by May 17 on resolving concerns and to avoid a potential federal takeover.