By Michael Schwirtz

September 28, 2014

Although experts have spoken for years about the devastating effects of solitary confinement on the mental health of adolescent prisoners, such seclusion has long been the primary form of punishment at the Rikers Island jail complex, where inmates as young as 16 can spend days, weeks and sometimes months locked in a cell for over 23 hours a day.

Now, amid increasingly vocal calls to improve conditions at Rikers, the New York City Correction Department has decided to eliminate solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates by the end of the year.

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