Calls for Lockdowns, Investigations As Record Violence, Drug Incidents Occur At NY Prisons
There are calls for lockdown at one upstate New York prison and a reversal of state policy as record violence continues at facilities statewide.
New York State Senator Joe Griffo showed up at one of those prison facilities today for an unannounced tour. Griffo's surprise visit was at Marcy Correctional Facility, prompted by recent violence that has resulted in correctional officers suffering broken bones, concussions, contusions and other injuries.
"I want to get a firsthand look at what's really going on here," said Griffo, who was also joined outside the prison by Bryan Hluska, the Central Region VP for the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA).
Hluska and other officials representing the correctional officers union have been critical of the state's recently implemented Humane Alternatives to Long Tern (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act.
In summary, it limits which inmates can be punished with time in single housing units, and caps the number of days an incarcerated person can spend there.
In describing solitary confinement, or SHU (single housing units), Hluska compared it to the jail within the jail.
"When you are punished for committing a crime you go to jail or prison, which is also it's own community. SHU is like jail inside prison," Hluska explained, adding that inmates don't like serving time there.
"There are no consequences to this behavior or action anymore. What's you're seeing here is outrageous, officers lured and attacked...there was a nurse who, because of some type of drug that was brought into the facility, had to be administered Narcan and had to go to the hospital," Griffo said. "This cannot be accepted."
The Republican from Rome said he has also written Governor Kathy Hochul, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the New York Inspector General calling for an investigation saying the unprecedented acts of violence involving inmate-on-inmate attacks, and inmate-on-staff attacks "deserves their attention and needs action."
Since full implementation of HALT began on April 1, staff assaults and inmate assaults are up 35%, Hluska said. "This is the single biggest problem affecting our members," said Hluska, who represents guards at several facilities including Marcy Correctional and Midstate, both in Marcy, NY, and Mohawk Correctional in Rome.
Hluska also said he believes there is a major drug problem in Marcy Correctional. "This jail right here is rampant with drugs," saying there were a half dozen staffers in the last four months who had to be given Narcan due to exposure to dangerous drugs within the facility.
"It happens at all of our facilities but it seems like at Marcy we've got a serious problem," said Hluska, who continued to call for a lockdown at Marcy Correctional due to the drug issue.
"We need a lockdown to go through this facility with dogs and find these drugs and dispose of them," Hluska said.