New York City Council
Commission on Criminal Justice
CC: Hon. Carlina Rivera, Chair
Dear Committee of Criminal Justice,
I would like to start off by thanking the Committee on Criminal Justice for holding this hearing. I am honored to be here with so many of my colleagues who I have had the pleasure of working with over the years to truly end the use of solitary confinement, an inhuman form of torture. I do not want to take too long as I know my fellow colleagues have outlined a lot of the common concerns we as a community have in regards to the impact on those who identify as LGBTQI, Black, and/or People of Color.
I am here today representing Equality New York, a statewide advocacy organization with over 5,500 members and 100+ organizational partners, many here today. Our mission is to improve the lives of all LGBTQI New Yorkers and their families. That is why I am here today, to share the negative impact the use of solitary confinement has on our community.
Multiple studies have shown that solitary confinement has historically been used disproportionately against Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, & Intersex (LGBTQI) individuals. We have shared a few of these studies and findings for you to review. Within the LGBTQI community, Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming, Non-Binary, & Intersex people are targeted the most. Jails and prisons often try to claim they use solitary confinement to “protect” LGBTQI/TGNCNBI individuals even after multiple studies have shown the lasting
negative effects on both the mental and physical health of being detained in this specific way. Rather than prioritizing safety for all those in the care of the system they continue to use this inhumane practice.
As we all know, incarceration doesn’t only affect the individual inside the system but the entire family unit. Those being put in solitary confinement are coming out of the system with increased mental health issues. Therefore, the impact of solitary confinement creates a ripple effect in families for generations to come.
Lastly, I know for sure, I will be one of many to make sure we speak the name of Layleen Polanco. A woman who was murdered in 2019 due to the use of solitary confinement.
I ask of you all today, to immediately end the use of this inhuman and a form of torture.
Amanda Babine Executive Director of Equality New York