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Advocates Rally For Jail Reforms As Votes On Solitary Confinement Proposals Loom

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Advocates rallied Monday to call for reforms in the New York City jail system, ahead of votes on two proposals addressing the use of solitary confinement.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-25th) stood with jail reformers at a news conference Monday. A vote was set Thursday on legislation he has proposed.

As WCBS 880's Marla Diamond, Dromm proposed the reforms after visiting solitary confinement cells at Rikers Island.

Advocates Rally For Jail Reforms As Votes On Solitary Confinement Proposals Loom

"With graffitied walls, smelling of urine, a very small window letting in just a little bit of light," Dromm said.

One proposal would require jail officials to post monthly statistics on the use of solitary confinement, including how often it is doled out, sentence lengths and injuries suffered there.

The other would end the practice of carrying over, between jail stints, an inmate's time owed in solitary for breaking jailhouse rules.

Nick Malinowski, a social worker with Brooklyn Defender Services, said he hopes the regulations makes guards more accountable.

"Almost everyone is put in solitary confinement initially for a nonviolent offense," he said.

Dromm has been an advocate for reform of the use of solitary confinement for years. He said last year that solitary confinement should only be used as a last resort.

"It's something that should only be used in the most extreme circumstances, when nothing else will work, and to protect other inmates from a violent criminal, or to protect that person from themselves, actually," Dromm said last year.

About 600 of the roughly 11,500 inmates in the nation's second-largest jail system are in punitive segregation for 23 hours a day.

Correction Department Commissioner Joseph Ponte has vowed to reform the city's jails.

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