Mayor Adams criticized City Council members who want to eliminate solitary confinement in city jails on Tuesday, just one day after Council Speaker Adrienne Adams stated she would support the planned ban.
The mayor was replying to a question about whether he’d sign such a bill if the Council approved it during a visit to the National Press Club in Washington.
He didn’t say yes or no, but his statement on Tuesday made it apparent that he still opposes such legislation.
“If someone slashes someone with a knife on the street, I put him in jail. I remove him from the population because he’s dangerous,” Adams said.
“Someone slashes someone in jail, what do I do with him? I remove him from the population and put him someplace by himself until he corrects his action and gets the assistance he needs. So what the City Council is saying is if someone slashes someone in jail, you do nothing with them,” Adams added.
Adams then expanded on his criticism of the stated rationale.
Adams’ statements set the stage for what may be an epic battle between himself and the Council Speaker, with whom he has previously boasted about his friendship.
The mayor has joked that he and Council Speaker Adams form the law practice “Adams and Adams.” The two have nothing in common.
The bill, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, now has the support of 35 Council members, giving it a veto-proof majority.
If Mayor Adams vetoes the law and that majority holds, it will almost surely be seen as a severe setback for his administration.
The law, as drafted, would make it illegal for the city to detain an offender in solitary confinement for more than eight hours a day “unless such confinement is necessary to deescalate urgent conflict that has caused injury or poses a specific, serious, and imminent danger to a person’s safety.”
According to Williams, there has been a “gross distortion of what the bill achieves.”
He claims that it does not prohibit the Correction Department from segregating dangerous offenders from the rest of the population but rather imposes safeguards on the practice, often known as punitive segregation.