State lawmakers vote to let inmates use phone before solitary

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File).

The Associated Press

Inmates sent to solitary confinement would get to make a phone call first under legislation heading to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk after passing the Democrat-led Legislature.

Under the bill, inmates would also be allowed to make one phone call per week while held in isolation.

Queens Assemblymember Nily Rozic sponsored the Assembly version of the bill and said that staying in contact with loved ones can make a "huge difference" in helping to rehabilitate inmates.

Rozic said the state should work to strengthen the family ties of inmates, not weaken them.

The bill passed the state Senate on Wednesday after passing the Assembly in February.

Cuomo has not said publicly whether he will sign the bill.

Lawmakers are also considering legislation that would limit solitary confinement to a maximum of 15 days.

Last week, the New York City Council voted to enable detainees, including people in solitary confinement, to make free phone calls in city jails.