NYC Rad Ref Supports the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act

NYC Radical Reference members have written a letter in support of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act, which is pending in the New York State legislature. For more information, see the work of the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement at

We are writing as librarians and other library workers in support of the passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (A. 3080 / S. 4784). Thousands of people, disproportionately Black and Latinx, are in solitary confinement in NY prisons each day, which means 22 to 24 hours a day in a cell without any meaningful human contact or programs. These conditions are recognized—including by the United Nations—as torture. The HALT Act would include restrictions on criteria for placement in solitary confinement, alternatives to isolation, and a 15-day limit on solitary confinement. Advocates note that states that have reduced the use of solitary have seen a positive impact on safety for both incarcerated people and corrections officers.

At least 95% of all people in state prisons will be released at some point, and NY was among the top five states with releases at the time of a 2001 study (source: These people who are coming out of jail and prison and may have experienced the torture of solitary confinement (or may have administered it to someone as a corrections officer) are among our library users. They're some of the people we're teaching to use our public computers, helping do research for their coursework, finding books and information for, and generally seeing in and welcoming to the public spaces we steward. It's to the benefit of everyone in a society that we're all given the resources to live healthy lives, and initiatives to reduce the trauma of torture will make for safer communities all around. For these reasons we librarians urge the passage of the HALT Act.