Union for corrections officers wants inmate transports suspended

Posted 19 March 2020 at 8:20 am

Press Release, New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association

The union representing corrections officer in the state is calling on the Acting Commissioner of DOCCS to immediately end all non-essential transportation of inmates to minimize the exposure to COVID-19 for staff and inmates.

In a letter dated March 9, 2020, NYSCOPBA requested a number of measures to be taken to minimize the possible exposure of the Coronavirus. One of the requests was the immediate reduction of transportation of inmates to outside facilities except for medical emergencies.

A follow up letter dated March 14 outlined a number of measures that DOCCS failed to take to safeguard correctional facilities, staff and the inmate population from the Coronavirus. The letter referenced an “indifference” on the administrations part to follow proactive measures recommended by the CDC and World Health Organization to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

All of this inaction occurred prior to and after Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday, March 7, and President Trump declared a national state of emergency on Friday, March 13.

“The health and well-being of DOCCS employees and the incarcerated population should be of paramount importance to the administration, yet as other state and county correctional institutions across the country took proactive measures to limit exposure, DOCCS failed multiple times to heed the advice of the CDC as well as disregard NYSCOPBA requests to suspend all unnecessary inmate transportation, inmate visits and remove double bunking to improve social distancing among inmates,” said Michael B. Powers, NYSCOPBA president.

DOCCS suspends visitation to prisons until April 11

Press Release, The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is responsible for the safety, health, rehabilitation, and supervision of nearly 44,000 incarcerated individuals and over 35,000 individuals on community supervision through the tireless efforts of nearly 30,000 employees.

Visitation Suspended at All Correctional Facilities.  While this suspension of visitation will be temporary, the Department recognizes the immediate impact on incarcerated individuals throughout the correctional system.

However, the current situation demands this significant action to safeguard the health and safety of all incarcerated individuals, employees, as well as their families and communities.  While in-person visitation will be impossible to replace, the Department will provide the following benefits to encourage individuals to keep in contact with their family and friends during this temporary suspension:

• Five (5) free stamps per week for use in accordance with Directive #4422, “Inmate Correspondence Program”;

• Two (2) free secure messages per week via electronic tablet; and

• One (1) free phone call per week in accordance with Directive #4423 “Inmate Telephone Calls”.

This suspended visitation also applies to family reunion programs. However, legal visits will not be impacted by this visitation suspension. Legal visits will be conducted as non-contact (i.e. no physical contact allowed), as requests are submitted, and that option remains available within the facilities.

The Department takes seriously its duty to ensure the safety and well-being of those who work, visit and live in our correctional facilities, as well as those who supervise or are supervised in the greater community of New York.  During this difficult time, the Department is appreciative of everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to face this virus together.

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