Lenel McGinley Liddy, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, has strongly criticized the recent passage of Intro 549-A by the city council, an initiative aimed at banning solitary confinement.
Liddy outlined significant concerns with the legislation, emphasizing potential dangers to both staff and detainees.
Commissioner Liddy’s primary objection centered around the misconception that the bill addresses an existing problem on Rikers Island.
She clarified that “Solitary confinement, defined as 22 hours or more of isolation without meaningful contact, has not been practiced since 2019.”
She urged a more nuanced approach, arguing against legislating for practices that are already obsolete.
The commissioner expressed deep apprehension about the impact of the new law on the safety of transportation to court.
With over 600 individuals transported daily on a fleet of 20 or more buses, each carrying 25 individuals, she argued that removing the ability to restrain individuals could lead to chaos and violence, directly threatening the safety of staff and detainees.
A critical point of contention for Liddy was the bill’s elimination of consequences for violent acts within correctional facilities.
She warned that without the ability to hold violent offenders accountable, the system could spiral into increased incidents of violence, undermining the safety of all involved.
While emphasizing the shared desire for safe and fair jails, Liddy asserted that Intro 549-A, in its current form, falls short of achieving this goal and could compromise the safety and well-being of those within the correctional system.
She reiterated his commitment to making New York City’s jails safer and more humane, expressing concern that the legislation, if enacted, would hinder the fulfillment of this pledge.
Also, speaking, the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, said, “Following the guidance of our federal monitor, I am vetoing the Intro 549-A, which would undermine the progress we’ve made. I implore the City Council to work with our administration and follow the federal monitor’s guidance to abandon this misguided bill.
“Our administration is vehemently against solitary confinement in our jails, and New York City has not used the practice for years. In fact, under our administration our jails have gotten safer without the practice.”