On Friday the city of New York reached a $980,000 settlement with four young men who were detained at the Albany County Correctional Facility last year. According to The New York Times, the men claimed that the city purposely transferred them from Rikers Island to a jail upstate, knowing that they would be beaten and placed in solitary confinement at their new location.
As part of the settlement, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has agreed to stop transferring young detainees to the jail in Albany. Reform activists note that the placements allowed the jails to essentially get around the policy that the city held, which banned the use of solitary confinement as a punishment for youth under the age of 21.
That policy was enacted after Kalief Browder committed suicide following his nearly three years in isolation at Rikers. In January, the city reached a $3.3 million settlement in that case.
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In a phone call with The Times on Friday following the settlement announcement, Davon Washington, one of the young detainees involved in the case said, “In the future nobody will have to go through what we went through. They won’t have to experience that feeling.”
Washington, who was 21 when he was moved to Albany by city correction officials, said he was handcuffed and shackled inside a small cell after being accused of attacking a guard on Rikers. While detained he was beaten and sentenced to serve 360 days in solitary. Washington was imprisoned after having been convicted of attempted robbery.
“Barbarity of the sort alleged — cannot be tolerated in a civilized society,” Chief Judge Colleen McMahon wrote in her decision for the settlement. “There is reason to conclude, even at this early stage, that at least some of the horrors that are described in that pleading actually took place.”
News of the win for the four detainees, and the administration’s policy change, comes on the heels of New York City Council’s vote to close Rikers. An $8 billion-dollar plan was approved to replace the notorious prison complex with four smaller jails by 2026.