NYC takes first Steps to reducing solitary confinement

The video for this lesson contains time sensitive information. Developments in the project discussed in the video which occurred after the release date are not covered in the video or this curriculum. See “Follow-Up Assignments” below for a way of addressing this fact in your lesson plan.

Lesson title

NYC Takes First Steps to Reducing Solitary Confinement

Video title, link and release date

NYC Takes First Steps to Reducing Solitary Confinement, June 12, 2013

Video Length

Two minutes, Thirty-five seconds

Grade Level

High school


Beginning this July, the New York City Correction Department will be ceasing its practice of solitary confinement for prisoners with mental illnesses.

This means that instead of locking these prisoners in what could be extreme isolation for 23 hours per day, the patients will be transferred to an internal clinic, which the New York Times asserts will provide psychiatrists that will be available to administer treatment and medicine.

It can be argued that solitary confinement can create mental illness, and the UN has claimed that it is a form of torture.

On average, inmates in New York endure five months, but can also be held for years.

One of the current issues surrounding the release of inmates who have endured solitary confinement is that there are relatively no support programs to help reintegrate them back into society.

Review Questions

1. When will New York halt its practice of solitary confinement for inmates with mental illnesses?


2. Of the total New York City prison population in solitary confinement, how many of them are people with mental illnesses?


3. What legislative action sparked the reversal of these confinement policies?


Freewriting “Journal” Prompt

What about this report do you have questions about?

Why do you think that the practice of solitary confinement has been allowed for so long, and what reasons can you provide that might explain why the practice can create mental illness?

What do you want to know more about?

Will is the editor for the Galaxy Awareness and History pages as well as one of our pollsters. He is a sophomore at Seattle University majoring in philosophy. His home is La Crosse Wisconsin.