A law passed Wednesday will prohibit solitary confinement in prisons and jails for longer than 15 days, The New York Times reports. The law won’t go into effect until 2022, but marks progress for prisoner advocates, who have been raising awareness for years about the practice’s negative health effects, like increased risk for suicide and higher rates of death after release. The new law will mandate evaluations for suicide risk before putting people in confinement and will focus on creating rehabilitation centers. The practice will be banned completely for prisoners under 22 and over 54, pregnant people, and people with mental and physical disabilities.
Punitive segregation has long been criticized for its disproportionate use on non-white groups. Almost three fourths of the prison population in New York is Black or Latino, and they comprise four-fifths of those in solitary confinement. Half the state prison population is Black, yet they represent 58 percent of those in punitive segregation.