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New York Announces 'Dramatic Reform' Of Solitary Confinement Rules

Finalizing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged overuse of solitary confinement, New York will change the way it handles such confinement in its prison system. The changes center on improving prisoners' socialization and rehabilitation.

The 79-page agreement ends a lawsuit filed by New York's ACLU chapter, which accused one of the largest prison systems in the country of using inhumane and torturous methods in dealing with prisoners.

Leroy Peoples, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, served 780 consecutive days in isolation. The NYCLU says he was punished not for violent behavior, but for filing false documents.

"Solitary confinement is mental torture that I wouldn't want anyone to experience," Peoples says in a news release from the NYCLU. "A major milestone has been accomplished today."

From North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann:

"Under the provisions of this deal, New York state will immediately move roughly 1,100 inmates into alternative programs. They will also develop training programs for corrections officers designed to encourage the use of forms of discipline and security other than isolation. Prisoners still held in solitary for more than 180 days will receive additional counseling, social time, and access to telephones."

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