Event Highlights the Need to Reform New Jersey’s Use of Solitary Confinement
(EDISON) — Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin participated in a roundtable discussion about reforms to New Jersey’s solitary confinement system at Kean University on Wednesday. Joining her was former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) and Middlesex County Warden Mark Cranston.
Other participants included members from the New Jersey State PBA, ACLU, New Jersey Jail Wardens Association, New Jersey Psychiatric Association and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, to name a few.
“Today’s roundtable brought together our law enforcement community, mental health advocates and human rights stakeholders on this important topic. I appreciate the honest and positive conversation between all of the interested parties,” said Pinkin. “Commissioner Kerik’s unique perspective not only as the leader of the most powerful law enforcement agencies in the country, but as a former inmate once exposed to solitary confinement makes a lasting impact.”
Pinkin is the prime sponsor of Assembly bill 4510 which would make various changes to the solitary confinement system including restrictions to its use.
The bill would limit the amount of time that an inmate can be placed in confinement to no more than 15 consecutive days, or for more than 20 days during any 60-day period. In addition, the bill would define vulnerable populations to those under the age of 21 or older than 55; has a developmental disability; or diagnosed with a mental illness; to name a few.
The discussion exposed the role that mental health issues play in keeping inmates in solitary confinement and helping correctional officers in identifying when segregated housing is not necessary.
“States across the country are seriously examining how solitary confinement is being used. I am pleased that New Jersey is taking the lead on this issue,” said Pinkin.
Further conversations will be held with the various stakeholders to improve the legislation.
Assemblywoman Pinkin represents the 18th Legislative District which includes East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield and South River. She was first elected to the Assembly in 2013 after serving on the East Brunswick Town Council since 2005.