NYSCOPBA Officials Demand Cuomo Stop Closing Prisons In New York State
Using the closed down Oneida Correctional Facility as a backdrop, officials with the New York State Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) gathered together to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to halt his closure of certain prisons across New York State.
NYSCOPBA leadership held the press conference Wednesday to demand Cuomo and The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to put a hold on any future prison closures to avoid a potential powder keg from exploding. Officials are asking for a comprehensive study to be conducted prior to any moves being made in order to address what they call rising violence inside of those prisons.
Officials say Cuomo has closed a total of 19 prison facilities since taking office, but they argue he hasn't thought about the ramifications associated with such actions. Officials claim "he continues to fail to recognize and address the violence that is spiraling out of control inside our prison walls." NYSCOPBA leadership brought up the statistics over the last ten years regarding this issue. They acknowledge that the prison population has declined by over 20,000, however violence against staff and Correctional Officers has increased 100 percent. Inmate in inmate violence has also seen a triple-digit increase.
NYSCOPBA President Michael Powers says,
Today we are calling on the Governor and DOCCS to put the brakes on any further prison closures until a comprehensive study, which we have been calling on for years, is commissioned to make real recommendations on how to effectively decrease the violence inside our facilities. Oneida Correctional Facility, which was closed nearly a decade ago, is a another reminder of this administration’s failure to properly support the brave men and women of NYSCOPBA who put their lives on the line every day. Basking in the glory of closing the most prison facilities in New York State history is hailed as being fiscally responsible, but ultimately has come at the expense of our members’ safety.
Not only do prison closures have an impact on life within the prison walls, officials say the closure of facilities has a negative impact on the communities they have been built within. Officials say while the majority of these prisons are located in rural communities, it tears apart the fabric of that community. Officers and their families are uprooted and forced to start over somewhere else. When the families leave, local businesses are devastated as well.
Currently, officials say there is legislation pending in the New York State legislature which would establish a commission to study and make recommendations on violence in state prison facilities and they feel rejecting the legislation would be "turning a blind eye to the officers who are attacked on a daily basis and betrays every man and woman who put on that uniform every day to protect New Yorkers."
With COVID-19 still a lingering concern and prison closures causing further confinement for inmates, it is a potential recipe for disaster. That disaster is one that will impact the lived of the hard-working men and women who are members of NYSCOPBA and their loved ones.