A longtime prisoner advocate on Sunday praised a state judge's ruling that found the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is not providing enough evidence to show it is following the law when it comes to solitary confinement.

Soffiyah Elijah, the executive director of Alliance of Families for Justice, underscored the significance of the ruling, telling NY1's Dean Meminger that DOCCS “has been violating the law for a number of years.”

“It's really a good decision by the judge,” Elijah said. “Unfortunately, it cannot remedy the harm that the people who were subjected to being held in solitary confinement suffered for all of that time.”

This past week, meanwhile, the New York City Board of Correction held a public meeting discussing solitary confinement in city jails. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams testified, saying Local Law 42 banning solitary confinement in city jails must be implemented immediately.  

Elijah said “routinely, [the] New York City jail system has ignored that law, held people in solitary much longer, and gone to the Board of Corrections regularly asking for a waiver of the law so that they could continue to hold people in solitary against the law.”

Asked about those who believe that people who commit violent acts while incarcerated should be put in solitary confinement for safety reasons, Elijah stressed the need for due process.

"If someone violates the law, whether they're in prison or they’re outside of prison, then there's due process, and there’s a due process procedure that ought to be implemented," she said. “So if you violate the law, you have a right to a trial. You have a right to question witnesses.”

“But what happens in the state and the city system is that the same officers who work day-to-day with their colleagues, they sit as hearing officers in these proceedings and they just rubber-stamp whatever their brother officers say, and there’s no real due process for someone,” she added. “So they can arbitrarily, without any real due process, be held for long periods of time, in a situation that can only be described as torturous.”