On November 22, 2011, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision sentenced the plaintiff, a 17-year-old prisoner, to four years in solitary confinement following a disciplinary hearing for allegedly assaulting a correctional officer. In solitary confinement, the prisoner was ...
read more >
On November 22, 2011, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision sentenced the plaintiff, a 17-year-old prisoner, to four years in solitary confinement following a disciplinary hearing for allegedly assaulting a correctional officer. In solitary confinement, the prisoner was allegedly deprived of phone calls, packages, commissary, and good time credits for four years, and was confined in a small cell for 23 hours a day. Prisoners' Legal Services of New York subsequently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the prisoner in New York State Supreme Court, alleging that the hearing disposition "shocked the conscience" and "was deliberately indifferent to the medical and mental health needs of 16 and 17 year olds". The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment stating that (1) solitary confinement of 16 and 17 year olds violates state and federal constitutional prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment, and (2) the Department's regulations on solitary confinement is unconstitutional because they do not require consideration of a person's age in imposing punishment at disciplinary hearings.
On March 15, 2013, the New York State's Appellate Division ruled that although there was substantial evidence that the prisoner violated inmate rules, the solitary confinement sentence was "so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness." The court sent the declaratory judgment part of the case to the State Supreme Court for adjudication.
On October 17, 2014, the parties announced a settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, the state agreed to a number of provisions, including (1) a one-time review of all juveniles in adult prison solitary confinement; (2) establishing a Juvenile Separation Unit with special programming; (3) the hiring of social workers to work with juveniles in new housing units; (4) the enactment of new regulations to consider age as a mitigating factor in disciplinary cases; (5) limiting of disciplinary confinement for juveniles, and (6) training officers in the new procedures. The settlement agreement is scheduled to expire after 24 months. Priyah Kaul - 11/08/2014