Corrections Chaos: CO Quits, Describes ‘Powder Keg of Drugs and Violence’ in NY Prisons
Another New York State Correctional Officer has had enough of the abuse, assaults and exposures - including one that nearly cost him his life. He's now quit and is instead looking forward to a new career driving truck. And, he's not alone, telling WIBX 950 there's a list of CO's about to walk-out the door soon, too.
Joshua Crowe had been a New York State Correctional Officer for six years before he recently decided enough was enough. Fears that he might leave for work and never return home to see his family finally came to head when that exact scenario almost played out.
As a youth sports coach for his young daughters, Crowe says he missed their first game. Not because he was really tired from a long day at work, or got 'stuck' working a double, or the dreaded COVID-19 positive test. It was because he was bouncing-in-and-out of consciousness, uncontrollably vomiting and nearly died from his exposure to fentanyl while working inside one of New York's increasingly violent and drug infested prisons.
This wasn't what he signed up for.
In his July 1 resignation letter, the Sauquoit native describes what being a correctional officer has become, the injuries he's sustained, and calls out state lawmakers for policies that he says fit their 'liberalist agenda', but are failing miserably.
The on the job injuries/exposures have kept him from his family and taken a toll on his body, he says.
"I have been poked with a used tattoo gun needle...[and] was unable to have contact with my wife and kids," for a month while undergoing treatment for that exposure, Crowe wrote. "I now get injections behind my knee caps due to attempting to restrain an inmate [who was] high on K-2. Needing surgery on one of them. I have also had surgery on my wrist," which is now almost useless he says. "I have had to explain to my youngest why daddy's eye was black more than a few times" Crowe's resignation letter read.
And, then the nearly fatal fentanyl exposure.
"Most recently, a life changing exposure to fentanyl that quite honestly, I will never get over. I thought and felt like I was going to die. Your policies and procedures do not work," the letter reads.
It came during a recent incident that lead to the Utica Fire Department's hazmat team being called in for an overdose-exposure in the mailroom. Despite the belief that one of the inmate cells might contain this deadly substance, and with a hazmat team already on site, he was still sent-in to inspect an inmate's cell for fentanyl without proper protection and almost died because of it, he told WIBX. The reason he was sent in to the cell instead of the hazmat team, he says, it because 'the prison administration'' didn't want to ''cause too much alarm.''
"My family, friends and my health are more important to me than your agenda. And please, do not use the adage, "this is what you signed up for", you and I both know that it is not," Crowe's resignation letter (below) concludes.
He also said there will be many more openings in the near future in the New York State Correctional System as he is personally aware of several others guards who have already made their decision to leave, but are simply looking to find what it is their next career path will be before quitting.
He says policy decisions, like Humane Alternatives to Long Term Solitary Confinement - HALT Act - among others have "...created a powder keg of drugs and violence. Andrew Cuomo, Kathy Hochul, Anthony Annuci, OMH, and countless others are making all this possible with their liberalist agendas."
As an example, Crowe points to the HALT Act limitation of 14 days in solitary confinement, also called The SHU - single housing units. Aside from taking away a punishment for bad behavior, it has actually encouraged more violence by inmates who prefer SHU over general population because of their own safety concerns, he explains.
Some inmates prefer to live alone without a roommate, while others are afraid a 'beef' with another inmate may get them shanked.
"We've walked guys out of SHU and into general population (GP) and when we bring them to their cell, they spin around and punch the CO," Crowe said, adding that some openly admit to intentional assaults on staff as a way to protect themselves and stay out of GP.
"In two weeks, it's mandatory that the inmate leave SHU. So what do they do? Assault a guard just so he can stay-in," Crowe said.
For more on the New York State HALT Act or the rising assault statistics from within the state's facilities, click here.