New York, NY —
A human rights group says New York State's prisons engage in cruel and inhuman punishment when it comes to their drug-addicted inmates. Human Rights Watch says inmates found with drugs are put in disciplinary segregation, known as the "box," for 23 hours a day for months on end. Researcher Megan McLemore says inmates should be getting drug treatment instead.
MCLEMORE: It's an extreme punishment that's out of proportion in our view to the seriousness of the offense.
McLemore says the findings were based on more than 50 interviews with current and recently released inmates. A spokesman for the state's department of correctional services questioned the validity of the report. However, he added that drugs in prison lead to violence, so prison officials must take "tough but appropriate sanctions."