‘Call a vote!’: Protesters seeking solitary confinement ban demand City Council Speaker Johnson bring bill to floor

Advocates from #HALTsolitary continue to demand City Council Speaker Corey Johnson call a vote to permanently end the city’s use of solitary confinement in its jail system.

As first reported by amNewYork Metro, the 34th official cosponsor signed on to support legislation (Intro. 2173) to end solitary confinement in New York City jails, meaning that the bill now has veto-proof support in the City Council. The only thing standing between the bill and its passage is a vote on the City Council floor.

Chants of “Call a vote!” could be heard barreling through the frigid air outside City Hall on Dec. 6. Those who know all too well what it is like to spend time alone in Rikers Island were joined by friends of their cause on Murray Street and Broadway where they addressed City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Demonstrators demand an end to solitary confinement. Photo by Dean Moses

“We have a supermajority. The will of the people is that solitary is officially ended in New York City and we are demanding that the speaker bring a vote to the floor,” said Jerome Wright of #HALTsolitary Campaign, who is also a survivor of solitary confinement.

Brandishing signs reading, “End solitary,” the group looked to drive the need for reform with anecdotes from formerly incarcerated individuals who have experienced firsthand a punishment they consider to be torture.

Jerome Wright of #HALTsolitary Campaign and a survivor of solitary confinement. Photo by Dean Moses

“It was absolute torture, there is no other name for it,” Candie from the Jails Action Coalition began, “Imagine being a woman and you are menstruating and they [the guards] don’t give you sanitary napkins or a shower. One time, I had to take my jumper and rip it up and use it to catch the blood and they gave me extra days for destroying DOC property.”

It is due to horror stories such as these that advocacy groups are attempting to mount pressure on the speaker to call a vote to end the practice. 

The Public Advocate’s office agrees. Lending their support, Deputy Public Advocate for Justice, Health, Equity and Safety Solomon Acevedo called isolation in prisons a “human rights issue.”

“In 2017, Corey Johnson said he will always have the back of the people. So we’re calling on Cory Johnson. Today, this morning there are 34 co-sponsors to this bill. Do your job please, on behalf of those who suffer,” Acevedo said emotionally.

amNewYork Metro reached out to the New York City Council Speaker’s office for comment and is awaiting a response.

Candie from the Jails Action Coalition. Photo by Dean Moses