Analysis of Social Welfare Policy (HALT ACT)

Analysis of Social Welfare Policy (HALT ACT)

Analysis of Social Welfare Policy (HALT ACT)

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Analysis of Social Welfare Policy (HALT ACT)

Introduction

Solitary confinement is harsh in New York City’s jails and prisons. Despite mounting evidence that prolonged solitary confinement harms a person’s health, thousands of New Yorkers are held in this condition. Though authorities feel it is necessary to use the 23-hour isolation rule even for small infractions, they may do so even if the inmates are the ones who are most likely to suffer from the psychological and physical effects of such a policy. Because of this discretion, the disciplinary procedure may be tainted by explicit and unconscious prejudice.

In New York, the HALT Act will stop the worst abuses of isolation and solitary confinement. “The New York Civil Liberties Union” supports this law, and it is urged to be passed as soon as possible. It is harsh and demeaning to put vulnerable groups in solitary confinement for an extended time.

The HALT Act will end solitary confinement after 15 days for everyone, ban it for certain groups of people, and create alternatives to prolonged solitary confinement, such as access to at least seven hours per day out-of-cell with congregate engagement and programming. According to a recent assessment, the HALT Act would save New York State and local communities more than $132 million each year (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

The analysis focuses on the social welfare policies based on Gilbert and Terrel’s (2020) framework for the HALT Act. As such, the following areas shall be explored in-depth to provide meaningful insights, the basis of social allocation, nature of the social provision, design of the delivery system, administrative issues. Finally, mode of finance is explored.

Basis of Social Allocation

Eligibility for Programs Associated with the Identified Policy

Extended solitary confinement as a form of torture has been widely condemned by international human rights and health groups (UN News, 2011). Solitary confinement is widely acknowledged by international organizations like the World Health Organization and the United Nations as being very damaging and even lethal. According to a 2016 report by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, detention for more than 15 days in a row constitutes “inhumane, humiliating treatment and damaging to an individual’s health.” (NCCHC, the year 2022)

A person’s vulnerability to the consequences of isolation increases for several reasons. Persons under the age of 21, seniors over 55, pregnant women, new mothers, people with disabilities, and people with persistent mental illness are among those most at risk.

Adolescence is a time of rapid brain growth, and isolation may have long-lasting mental impacts and symptoms, including suicidal thoughts, despair, a loss of perspective, and detachment from reality.

Pros and Cons of Eligibility Determination

In light of the dangers adolescents face in solitary confinement, several jurisdictions in the United States have abolished solitary confinement for those under the age of 18. More than 20 states, including New York, the federal Bureau of Prisons, Connecticut, Colorado, and Los Angeles, have already prohibited solitary confinement for minors, including juvenile detention centers (Radelat, 2017).

The placement of older adults in solitary confinement increases their risk of health problems. Chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, illness are more common among the elderly. Of the jailed population over the age of 50, 73% report having at least one chronic health condition, according to a recent study (Couloute, 2017). According to research, solitary confinement may worsen or even cause the onset of chronic health disorders in elderly inmates.

Under United Nations guidelines, pregnant women should not be put in administrative or disciplinary segregation because of their special vulnerability to the detrimental consequences of a solitary environment. For pregnant women in New York, a new assessment of reproductive health care has proven that they are at significant risk of damage.

According to new research, the increased risk of preterm labor, low birth weight in kids, and depression in women with no pre-existing mental health concerns are all linked to solitary confinement during pregnancy. Placing expectant mothers in solitary confinement may hinder their ability to get prenatal care. Solitary confinement may also worsen the symptoms of postpartum depression in women who are just getting their lives back on track after giving birth.

In the New York State prison system, pregnant inmates have been barred from special housing facilities. Pregnant women and new mothers must be safeguarded from the risks of solitary confinement, whether they reside in prison or jail.

Individuals with impairments (physically or mentally) and severe mental diseases should not be kept in solitary confinement because of their increased vulnerability. These people are overrepresented in our nation’s prison population. Men in New York prisons are twice as likely as women to suffer from significant mental illness, at about 15%.

Reform steps are being taken to stop abusive solitary confinement techniques in prison and jail facilities via the HALT Act. Isolation for more than 15 days and solitary confinement for vulnerable groups are prohibited. Similar improvements have been achieved in other jurisdictions. Inmates in Colorado prisons may no longer be held in long-term isolation for more than 15 days at a time.

No one should be subjected to cruel or humiliating treatment, which is the foundation of the HALT Act. Disciplinary and administrative matters can no longer be handled through solitary imprisonment. The HALT Act shifts the focus from punishment and isolation to treatment and rehabilitation (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

Nature of Social Provision

Nature of the Benefits that Clients Receive from the Policy

Patients will accrue numerous advantages under the HALT Act. Before implementing alternative rehabilitative methods, this initiative will reduce the use of segregated incarceration in state prisons and county jails and instead create Residential Rehabilitation Units (RRUs) (RRU). Solitary confinement, often known as “isolated confinement,” “the box,” or “the SHU,” is a punishment method used in prisons and jails that confines inmates to a small, enclosed environment. In New York City’s prisons, people in solitary confinement often spend 22 to 24 hours a day in cells little larger than an elevator, with no meaningful programming or counseling. A defense lawyer working on their defense and loved ones who want to check on their well-being are frequently banned from contacting them by phone (NY State Senate, 2021).

Solitary confinement as a punishment by New York’s prison officials is still largely unrestricted, and some inmates are subjected to it for long periods. Sole incarceration is a penalty that the New York State Department of Correctional and Community Supervision (DOCCS) has the power to employ even for minor infractions of corrections regulations. As a result, many Black and Hispanic individuals are placed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU). According to prison census statistics, Black and Hispanic persons accounted for 85% of those in long-term solitary confinement in prison institutions in 2017. In contrast, they made up around 75% of the New York prison population (NY State Senate, 2021).

In addition, this initiative will limit the usage of solitary confinement for up to 15 days for all detained prisoners. A person’s mental health may suffer if they have little or no contact with other people and get only little stimulation from their environment. According to the CDC, Isolation may raise a person’s risk of early death from any cause at a rate comparable to the higher mortality rates associated with cigarette smoking, obesity, and lack of physical exercise. It has also been shown that even a short period of isolation may lead to long-term mental health issues such as sadness and anxiety and psychosis, delusions, self-mutilation, and suicide. For, moreover, 15 days in solitary confinement, the UN found that this constituted torture.

Third, this initiative would broaden the meaning of segregated confinement to encompass cell confinement when a person is confined for more than 17 hours a day. As humans, we are social beings. Isolation may lead to a variety of mental health issues over time. In 2008, Dr. Sharon Shalev published “A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement,” a comprehensive guide on solitary confinement. A feeling of dread, melancholy, despair, irritation, aggressiveness, and rage. Preexisting mental health concerns were aggravated by panic episodes.’ sensitivities such as hypersensitivity to noises and scents, issues with focus, attention, and memory paranoia, and a lack of self-discipline. Violent outbursts result from social withdrawal, depression, and suicidal ideation. Suicidal thoughts and suicidal attempts are significantly linked to living alone and experiencing feelings of loneliness. In addition, many confined persons grow unable to interact with others (NY State Senate, 2021).

After the 15-day restriction has been reached, this program requires additional out-of-cell time and rehabilitative programs for those transferred to rehabilitative institutions. There will be no more of this. The maximum number of days a person may be confined in solitary confinement in 60 days is 15 consecutive days. Patients who have reached this point in their treatment need to be discharged or redirected to an RRU with more time outside of the cell, programs, and therapeutic interventions.

In addition, this strategy assures that no particular population is ever confined in a segregated facility. Individuals under the age of 21 are considered a special population, those who are 55 and older, disabled individuals and pregnant women, new mothers up to eight weeks postpartum, and caregivers at a facility are all eligible.

Services, therapy, or necessities like food and bedding cannot be denied while a person is confined in segregated confinement under this program. More training requirements include 37 hours and 30 minutes of initial training, followed by 21 additional hours of training per year after being assigned to a segregated confinement facility. Additionally, ensure the integrity of the disciplinary process by preventing the putting of employees in segregated detention before a hearing and enabling them to consult with an attorney.

The ultimate objective of the HALT Act is to put a stop to harmful solitary confinement methods. As long as the Constitution’s Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments are ignored, the United States will continue to trample on the rights and liberties of its citizens.

Pros and Cons of the Benefits Clients Receive

The program better protects isolated Confinement or RRUs: At solitary confinement proceedings, for example, a person may have access to legal counsel by pro bono lawyers, law students, or paralegals. It also sets mechanisms for releasing prisoners held in RRUs. When deciding whether or not to release someone from an RRU, there are numerous levels of evaluation that take place at different times. Thirty days and then every 60 days; 100 days and then every 120 days. Also, if a person’s disciplinary punishment has expired, they must be freed. After a year, unless there are extraordinary circumstances and an impartial examination by an outside agency, a person must be freed.

In addition, the program includes all categories of people currently incarcerated in solitary confinement: Separate from medical or mental health imprisonment, the measure covers disciplinary incarceration and administrative segregation. It applies to those residing in Special Housing Units, S-Block, etc. 

Individuals will be held in solitary confinement for no more than 15 consecutive days under the HALT law or 20 days in 60 days. After 15 days in solitary confinement, inmates must be sent to the Residential Rehabilitation Unit (RRU), where they get treatment, support, six hours of daily out-of-cell programming, and an hour of daily out-of-cell entertainment. The RRU stays open for no more than one year at a time. A person’s placement in RRU is evaluated at least once every 60 days to see whether they should be freed from custody.

In addition, the law would limit the requirements for solitary confinement and prohibit its use for persons under the age of 21, people over the age of 55, the mentally ill, women who are pregnant or just given birth, and anyone who is caring for a kid. Using solitary confinement as a punishment is cruel and old-fashioned. Lawmakers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are on board with this legislation, but the measure needs a vote to become law. According to New York County Defender Services, please approve the HALT Act as soon as possible.

On the contrary, it is going to make prisons less safe. Since its inception, the primary goal of solitary confinement in prisons has been to keep inmates from posing a danger to others. Solitary confinement may be used to protect the rest of the prison population from a dangerous prisoner or staff member. As a result of this approach, dangerous offenders may return to the general population more readily, decreasing prisons’ safety (Kaba et al., 2014).

It lessens the variety of ways offenders may be disciplined. The use of solitary confinement as a punishment by prison officials has proven effective. Allowing corrections officers to keep order is made more accessible by using various forms of punishment. Because of this, solitary confinement is a deterrent to those in prison from behaving in a manner that deserves it. This will not be possible under this policy.

It may impede the rehabilitation of an inmate’s personality. Solitary confinement also aims to rehabilitate or reform the character of those who are imprisoned. Some people believe that if convicted criminal is left alone with their thoughts, they may access their conscience, contemplate inwardly, and come to terms with the gravity of their action. It will be challenging to achieve this goal if confinement time is reduced.

Design of the Delivery System

How Benefit is delivered

Individuals in prisons and jails are not just numbers; they are persons, family members, and community members. It does not matter how much money it costs; solitary confinement is torture and should be abolished. However, the state’s multi-billion-dollar financial shortage is still another incentive for New York to approve the HALT Solitary Confinement Act as soon as possible (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

Solitary confinement has a devastating effect on the human body and mind. New York State and municipal governments throughout the state face significant budgetary burdens due to this policy. Solitary confinement reduction via the HALT Act might cease cruel practices and save lives while saving New York State and communities around $1.32 billion over ten years in prison costs (NY State Senate, 2021).

The COVID-19 epidemic is wreaking havoc on New York State’s economy, and at the same time, the country’s most incredible demonstrations against racial inequity have erupted. Solitary confinement continues to have a devastating effect on persons of color, particularly those of African American and Latino descent. Using the savings from reducing the billions of dollars spent on the state’s incarceration system to improve schooling, accommodation, care services, and employment opportunities for those most hurt by COVID-19 and long-standing systemic racism and inequality is both fiscal and moral imperative the state of New York (NY State Senate, 2021).

A staggering $5.8 billion is spent yearly in New York on prisons and jails alone. As such, reducing the usage of solitary confinement reduces this enormous cost. Reducing the use of solitary confinement has long been acknowledged by experts throughout the nation as a cost-saving measure for state and municipal governments. New York Governor indicated in June 2019 that passing the HALT Act will cost New York State and local communities a significant amount of money, even though this fact has been well documented (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

Pros and Cons of How the Benefit is Delivered

HALT will enable the state to shut all jails, facilities, and units, resulting in a savings of about $80.36 million per year. The number of patients in alternative-to-solitary units will be reduced due to stricter criteria for placement. There will be no extra building or physical space for these alternate units. The tens of millions of dollars previously authorized and earmarked for establishing alternatives to solitary facilities under Governor Cuomo’s plan to reduce isolation, which was financed in previous budgets, would more than cover any small expenditures connected to physical space.

People who come before the Parole Board will be better prepared, resulting in more releases, fewer inmates in New York State prisons, and yearly savings resulting from less solitary usage and the availability of alternatives. In addition, state and municipal governments will save money by reducing violence and medical expenditures (both while incarcerated and after release) and reducing litigation costs and settlements. Besides, the source of savings is that HALT will lower the number of persons returning to jail or prison (UN News, 2011).

Mode of Funding

Source of Funding for the Benefit

The primary funding source for the HALT Act is the New York State and the Federal government. Upon implementation. New York has remained at the forefront in seeing that the state saves money, which the majority has supported. It is expected that the state will be saving around $ 132 million or 1.3 billion dollars annually in ten years. This move has been supported by the idea of “Save money, save lives.” Considering that New York spends over $ 5.8 billion on prisons and jails alone, it showed how much the state was incurring expenses. As such, the implementation of the HALT ACT, regardless of the funding that had to be done, remains a good move as it has been supported by many residents of New York and besides. IN 2019, the governor of New York confirmed that the passing of the HALT Act would cost the state a lot of money; however, that was not the case, as research shows otherwise. Instead, it saves a pretty large sum of money (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

Pros and Cons of the Mode of Funding

On any given day, around 280 prisoners will be taken out of solitary confinement in Special Housing Unit in New York due to these changes. A total of $80.6 million will be saved due to these closures.

Lawsuit settlements and judgments for damage caused by solitary confinement might be reduced via HALT. There is no way for the public to learn about litigation filed against the state’s prisons. As a result, these figures are most certainly overestimated. HALT can save the state at least $2.5 million a year even if they utilize just instances that have been publicly reported on in the last three years (2016, 2019, and 2020) (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

HALT will provide further savings by lowering the number of persons in jail. More often than not, prisoners in solitary confinement who appear before the Parole Board are refused parole. In a conservative estimate, if HALT generates a 10% increase in the number of releases (273 individuals), it will save $12.27 million annually (Ppgbuffalo, 2020).

On the contrary, in New York State prisons alone, 38,000 people are sentenced to solitary confinement each year, with 81 percent of those convicted being persons of color.

Proposed Change to the Nature of the Benefit

Self-harm in prison seems to be linked to various factors, including confinement in a solitary cell, young age, and all three of these factors taken together. Those with SMI and teenagers, in particular, should have their voices heard when it comes to the issue of solitary confinement as a punishment in prisons. According to several mental health organizations, solitary confinement should not be used as punishment for mentally ill convicts under the age of 18.

In addition, it is necessary to investigate the possibility of ending the practice of isolating convicts with SMI in solitary confinement. Instead, convicts with SMI who break jail rules are sent to therapeutic settings where they get intensive one-on-one and group therapy to help them comply with their treatment plan and be more helpful to others. Inmates with SMI will have to make their judgments about how to deal with their behavioral issues due to this shift from a punishment model to a therapeutic one. For those offenders whose mental illness is not considered “severe,” such as those who have mild to moderate behavioral difficulties or personality disorders, the new plan also restructures the way punishments are formulated. These convicts will be housed in a facility that provides real rewards, such as more time out of their cells and a decrease in their solitary confinement sentences, for their participation in programs and compliance with prison regulations. Inmates with mental illness will be able to see whether better clinical treatment and less dependence on solitary confinement will minimize their self-harm and other behaviors due to these improvements (Kaba et al, 2014).

Conclusions

The HALT Act’s passage indicates that New York is finally putting a stop to this harsh, ineffective, and harmful approach that has been widely discredited both nationally and globally. Implementing alternative measures focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment is thus a necessary step in changing the state’s criminal justice system. Constant solitary confinement has been demonstrated to have adverse effects on the mind, body, and spirit and thus should be avoided at all costs. It does not work because it does not tackle the root reason for an offender’s conduct; it does not work. This means that offenders must be allowed to become useful members of society to be less likely to commit future crimes. Locking someone in a cell for 22 to 24 hours a day without real human interaction or treatment has no advantage. Long-term solitary confinement, which is equivalent to torture, must stop immediately across the whole city of New York. Because 8 out of every 10 New Yorkers held in solitary are individuals of color, this practice is particularly harmful to minority groups.

References

Couloute, L. (2017). Aging alone: Uncovering the risk of solitary confinement for people over 45. Retrieved 10 May 2022, from https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/05/02/aging_alone/Kaba, F., Lewis, A., Glowa-Kollisch, S., Hadler, J., Lee, D., Alper, H., … & Venters, H. (2014). Solitary confinement and risk of self-harm among jail inmates. American journal of public health, 104(3), 442-447.

Ncchc. (2022). Solitary Confinement (Isolation). Retrieved 10 May 2022, from https://www.ncchc.org/solitary-confinementNY State Senate. (2021). Senate Passes the ‘HALT’ Solitary Confinement Act. Retrieved 10 May 2022, from https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senate-passes-halt-solitary-confinement-actPpgbuffalo. (2020). Retrieved 10 May 2022, from https://ppgbuffalo.org/files/documents/criminal-justice/incarceration/save_money__save_lives.pdfRadelat, A. (2017). CT civil rights panel seeks greater protections on solitary confinement. Retrieved 10 May 2022, from https://ctmirror.org/2017/08/07/ct-civil-rights-panel-seeks greater-protections-on-solitary-confinement/Terell, P., & Gilbert, N. (2012). Dimensions of Social Welfare Policy.

UN News. (2011). Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says. Retrieved 10 May 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2011/10/392012-solitary-confinement-should-be-banned-most-cases-un-expert-says