MHASC is a coalition of more than sixty organizations and hundreds of concerned citizens, advocates, mental health and criminal justice professionals, formerly incarcerated people and their family members, working to end the cruel practice of placing people with psychiatric disabilities in solitary confinement.
Imprisoned people in solitary confinement (known also as disciplinary confinement, Special Housing Units (SHU), and Keeplock) spend twenty-three to twenty-four hours a day in barren concrete cells. Many of these individuals have mental health needs. Despite experiencing the ravages of psychiatric symptoms, such vulnerable prisoners are subjected to sensory deprivation, social isolation, and enforced idleness – conditions that are extremely harmful to anyone’s mental health but devastating, and even life threatening, for people with psychiatric disabilities.
Established in 2002, MHASC has been an instrumental advocate in the creation and passage of the SHU Exclusion Law, which was passed in the New York State legislature in 2008 and went into effect in 2011. This law protects individuals with serious mental illness from being placed in solitary confinement. MHASC continues to advocate for the implementation and oversight of the SHU Exclusion Law. MHASC is also engaged in creating supplemental trainings for Mental Health and Corrections staff, to help them better understand how to assist in the rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals suffering from mental illness.