Leonard Strickland’s barbaric and unnecessary death at the hands of prison guards at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York highlights the need for independent oversight of the state’s prisons. His beating in 2010, the details of which have only recently come to light, is the latest in a long list of instances of brutality toward inmates in New York’s prison system.
The state’s inhumane practices involving solitary confinement have also generated outrage. Thousands of prisoners have been held in extreme isolation, in some cases for years, and often for minor rule violations, at great cost to their mental health and potential for rehabilitation. A settlement announced last month of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union will reduce both the number of inmates held in isolation and the maximum stay, and will abolish some of the harshest conditions.