WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
The city's Department of Correction is significantly increasing the number of its solitary confinement units. Currently, it has 862 so-called "punitive segregation cells." By the end of next month, it will have just under a thousand, according to DOC Commissioner Dora Schriro.
“It is critical to the safety and well being of our workforce as well as all the other inmates,” she said.
Norman Seabrook, President of the Correction Officers Union, supports more solitary untie, but he said Schriro has acted too slowly.
“Until we start sounding the alarm, everybody falls asleep at the switch,” he said.
But some advocates are critical of this change. Jean Cassella, co-founder of Solitary Watch, said increasing the use of solitary confinement is not a silver bullet. And she added its use may have adverse impacts on inmate mental health.
“In fact two states Maine and Mississippi have reduced their solitary conferment dramatically and have seen a drop in prison violence,” she explained.
According to the DOC, the number of inmate fights and stabbings are both down this year. However, the correction officer's union insists the DOC is "fluffing" the numbers.