The prison system in the United States of America is broken. And while most of the people who work in the system, and certainly many of the people trapped in it, know that, a great many citizens do not. In large part that’s because politicians refuse to acknowledge the system’s broken, and indeed are still making it worse.
This week, New York State agreed to prison reforms including prohibiting the use of disciplinary solitary confinement for minors, pregnant women and limits for 30 days for inmates with developmental disabilities. Parts of the agreement still seem somewhat short of humane, but we recognize the importance of a substantial breakthrough in common prison policies that are decidedly inhumane.
Our prisons are ugly, debilitating, cruel places, often unjust and unfair. Sweeping reforms are necessary. But it wasn’t so long ago even this modest step was unlikely. With that in mind we welcome New York’s example.