Onondaga County Legislator Chris Ryan has introduced a resolution within the Public Safety Committee. The resolution, which was written with input and collectively approved by the County Executives Office, The Onondaga County Sheriff's office, County Legislature attorneys, and other County Legislators, seeks the end of Youth Solitary Confinement in all Onondaga County facilities. It will be discussed during the committee meeting tomorrow, August 9th, at noon. Although Youth Solitary Confinement has been reformed at the Justice Center, this resolution is needed to end the practice county-wide. The ACTS Community, who stands against Youth Solitary Confinement, has been called to attend the meeting in solidarity. If the resolution is successfully adopted at this meeting, it may reach the floor of the County Legislature. The resolution arrives after a significant victory against Youth Solitary Confinement here in Syracuse. Other County Legislators who have supported this resolution include Linda Ervin, Monica Williams, and John Dougherty.
“This is something to get involved with and bring an end to a practice that shouldn’t be happening.” ~Chris Ryan, Onondaga Legislator.
At the Onondaga County Justice Center in downtown Syracuse, children were subjected to what the United Nations has called “cruel, inhuman, and degrading torture.” Between 2015 and 2016, the Justice Center forced at least 86 children into solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and weeks or months at a time. Many of these youths were unconvicted and awaiting trial, and were jailed only because they could not afford bail. Some displayed symptoms of mental illnesses, and nearly all the youth systematically confined to isolation were also youth of color.
This abhorrent practice was addressed on June 26th, 2017, through a court settlement won by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the Legal Services of CNY (LSCNY) against the Onondaga County Sheriff's office. The court has ordered the reform of Youth Solitary Confinement in Syracuse. ACTS believes this settlement has already set a precedent. LSCNY filed another lawsuit against a Broome County jail, where similar abuses have occurred. The resolution being considered at tomorrow's meeting wouldn't just end youth solitary confinement in Syracuse, but systematically outlaw the practice in all of Onondaga County.