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Mayor admin asks federal judge to suspend solitary confinement ban in NYC jails

NYC’s mayor said he vetoed the ban because the DOC “would no longer be able to protect people in custody, or the union workers charged with their safety, from violent individuals”

Solitary Confinement NYC

FILE- Numbered doors of enhanced supervision housing unit, also commonly known as solitary confinement, are shown at the Rikers Island jail complex on March 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Seth Wenig/AP

By Chris Sommerfeldt, Shant Shahrigian
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The Adams administration is asking a judge to suspend implementation of the ban on solitary confinement at New York City jails until the federal monitor overseeing the facilities can weigh in.

A city Law Department lawyer made the request in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday, months after the City Council overrode Mayor Adams’ veto of the ban.

“The majority of the requirements of” the solitary ban “conflict” with previous orders in the federal monitor case, attorney Sheryl Neufeld wrote Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

While federal monitor Steven Martin voiced criticism of the solitary ban after it passed, it’s not clear whether Swain has jurisdiction to suspend the law, which is set to take effect July 28 .

In vetoing the ban in January, Adams said the policy means “the Department of Correction would no longer be able to protect people in custody, or the union workers charged with their safety, from violent individuals.”

For the safety and security of the facility, special management inmates must be segregated. In this tip, risk management expert and Lexipol co-founder Gordon Graham details best practices for this process.

The mayor’s office did not immediately answer a request for comment Wednesday.

His administration’s call for a pause on the solitary ban marks the latest step in a series of heated exchanges between the mayor and Democratic Council members.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the prime sponsor of the legislation, said he’s “disappointed” by the latest move from the mayor, a fellow Dem.

“The administration clearly has the resources to implement the law. Instead, they’re using those resources to try to continue the capability of prolonged isolation and preserve the status quo on Rikers,” Williams said in a statement.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams ’ office declined to comment Wednesday.

“We cannot allow the human rights and safety crisis on Rikers to continue by maintaining the status quo of failed policies and practices,” the speaker, a Queens Dem, said in January. “This legislation has broad support and advances a new approach to reduce violence and prioritize safety.”

Since 2015, the city’s problem-plagued jail system has had a federal monitor tasked with overseeing conditions and fostering reforms.

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