(NEW YORK) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams has vetoed a ban on solitary confinement in city jails that was overwhelmingly passed by the city council. He also vetoed legislation to require more transparency on data from the NYPD.
“Vetoing this bill will keep those in our custody and our correction officers safer,” said Adams in a statement Friday after vetoing the solitary confinement legislation.
Adams said if the bill were to take effect, “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.”
The city council could still override Adams’ veto with a vote of two-thirds of all council members, or 34 votes.
The council passed the legislation concerning solitary confinement on Dec. 20, with a 39-7 vote. The legislation, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, would require all people in city custody to have at least 14 hours of out-of-cell time in shared spaces and would limit solitary confinement to a temporary four-hour period after an incident or confrontation.
The legislation would also implement new disciplinary processes that would only allow isolation only in instances where an incarcerated person engages in a violent incident while in custody.
“Solitary confinement is inhumane, and its presence in our city is indefensible,” Williams said in a statement following the legislation’s passage. “Committing an infraction in jail can cause you to lose privileges, not basic human rights. People in solitary are isolated, denied human contact and connection, denied support, and come out of these deplorable conditions worse than when they went in – and some don’t come out at all.”
“The physical and psychological harm caused by solitary confinement leads to increased death and violence in jails, endangering those incarcerated, as well as correction officers and staff,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “When formerly incarcerated New Yorkers eventually return to their communities, the lasting trauma of solitary confinement follows them home, and affects us all as neighbors and members of a shared community.”
The mayor said in a statement that despite his opposition to the bill, his administration “does not support solitary confinement in our jails” and “we have achieved significant reductions in key indicators of violence in our correction system without solitary confinement.”
The NYC council also passed policies concerning NYPD transparency, which Mayor Adams also vetoed. These bills would force the NYPD to publicly report on police-civilian investigative stops and consent searches, as well as to expand NYPD reporting on vehicle stops to include the justification and the type of offense observed, as well as other data connected to vehicle stops.
These policies would also expand public insight into overtime, NYPD’s use of stop-question-and-frisk, and crime status information such as data on criminal complaints, arrests, and summons issued. The NYPD has long been under scrutiny over allegations of discriminatory policing by marginalized communities.
“While Intro. 586 has good intentions behind it, the bill is misguided and compromises our public safety,” the mayor said. “Our administration supports efforts to make law enforcement more transparent, more just, and more accountable, but this bill will handcuff our police by drowning officers in unnecessary paperwork that will saddle taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars in additional NYPD overtime each year.”
Mayor Adam’s policies have contributed to an increase in NYPD overtime pay, according to a recent Gothamist report. NYPD activity in the subway system alone has pushed overtime pay from $4 million to $155 million this year under Adams’ push to reduce crime and crack down on New Yorkers sleeping in the subways, according to the Gothamist. The local news outlet found that an “influx of officers corresponded to a 2% drop in what police call ‘major’ crimes in the subway.”
The passage by the city council had been applauded by local civil liberties groups and activists.
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