With the federal government suing Rikers Island over its frequently horrifying treatment of its adolescent inmates, the Board of Correction is ready to make a few changes. Back in September, Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte announced that Rikers would no longer subject 16- and 17-year-olds to solitary confinement — a punishment that can have devastating effects on people of any age. Now the New York Times reports that the seven-person Board of Correction has voted to stop using solitary confinement on all inmates 21 and younger. (The policy change is set to go into effect in 2016.) “I’ve never heard of anything like that happening anywhere else,” said prison reform expert Christine Hermann, who noted that most facilities use 18 as the minimum age for solitary. “It would definitely be an innovation.” And that’s definitely not something you would expect to hear someone say about Rikers.
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