LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Senate committee hears emotional testimony on solitary confinement

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Nafeesah Goldsmith recalled the screams from people in solitary confinement.

Goldsmith told the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee that solitary confinement is an abuse of power. The committee approved and released a bill that would drastically limit the use of isolated confinement, which the New Jersey Department of Corrections says it doesn’t use.

The bill’s sponsor says it’s time for change.

“This bill will help change that culture of corrections by restricting the use of solitary confinement. It would prohibit the use of isolated imprisonment,” said Sen. Nellie Pou.

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon offered to amend the bill to allow restrictive housing in cases.

“I think if someone assaults a corrections officer, again, or civilians present — they’re visiting, or social services — I think having there be some allowance is a good idea,” O’Scanlon said.

The state Assembly is working on an identical solitary confinement bill.