Remembering The ‘Halt Solitary Confinement Act’ As Debate Around The Death Penalty Rages On

Legislative Column by Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River)

To begin, I want to send the Buffalo community my heartfelt condolences as they continue to recover from the insidious shooting that left 10 of their community members dead this past weekend. The individual responsible was fueled by hate and intolerance, and he must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

In Albany circles and in the news cycle, we see debate around the death penalty and if the individual responsible for this shooting should be sentenced to death. At this point in time, I want to see bill language before committing my support to the death penalty.

However, it is important that we remember Albany’s Majority dangerous and unnecessary legislation that passed last year, the HALT Solitary Confinement Act (A.2277-A). The bill states that an inmate can only be held in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) for a maximum of 15 days, or a total of 20 days over a 60-day period. The bill restricts and limits the ability of correctional officers to effectively do their jobs.

SHUs are used by officers to separate dangerous, violent and disruptive inmates from the rest of the prison population. As pro-criminal legislation continues to be passed out of Albany, we are seeing a scourge of violence within correctional facilities, including increases of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff violence.

In addition to HALT, Gov. Hochul and her predecessor have closed a number of state-run correctional facilities over the last couple of years. More and more inmates are being transferred and crammed into less available facilities, only adding to an already dangerous environment. With prison closures also come the loss of jobs of hardworking correctional officers, who have the choice to relocate or find a new career path all within 90 days.

We can and must do better for our law enforcement community who continue to be tied down by Albany legislation as they face unprecedented amounts of violence.

With any questions on this or any other legislative issue, please reach out to my office at or 315-493-3909.