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Home » News » New York State » Lawsuit filed against DOCCS for misusing solitary confinement

Lawsuit filed against DOCCS for misusing solitary confinement

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  • Staff Report 

A class action lawsuit was filed against the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) by the Legal Aid Society, Disability Rights Advocates, and Winston & Strawn LLP. The suit, filed on May 8th accuses both agencies of violating the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act (HALT) by continuing to place incarcerated individuals with disabilities in solitary confinement.

According to the lawsuit, DOCCS and OMH have disregarded HALT’s directives, which prohibit the solitary confinement of people with disabilities, recognized as particularly vulnerable to its harmful effects. Despite HALT’s implementation in 2022, many individuals, including those with visual impairments, mental health issues, and mobility disabilities, have been kept in conditions akin to solitary confinement under various pretexts.

The case highlights several plaintiffs, including Maurice Anthony, a legally blind man subjected to extended periods in solitary, and Stephanie Peña, who suffers from PTSD and has experienced worsening mental health due to solitary confinement. The lawsuit aims to enforce HALT more stringently, ensuring that New York’s reformative laws lead to tangible changes in the treatment of incarcerated individuals with disabilities.