Our Primary Pages


Wine & Tourism


Click on the logo above to visit the website for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County





Column: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

Prison closures: insulting and dangerous

By Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning)

ALBANY, Feb. 22, 2024 -- Once again, Gov. Hochul has decided to close prisons in an expedited process. This time, she is proposing closing up to five prisons. A one-year closure notification is damaging enough to employees, their families and impacted local communities, but allowing a prison closure with just a 90-day notification is a tremendous insult to those dedicated correction officers and staff who work a very dangerous job to keep us safe.

The Legislature has the ability to reject this ridiculous 90-day notification proposal, and we absolutely should reject it. We should be treating these hard-working and dedicated employees and their families with respect. For a family to uproot themselves and find a new home and a new school for their kids takes some time. The state should recognize that and show some support and compassion.

This, all while this administration continues its failure to address the staggering rise in violent inmate-on-staff and inmate-on-inmate assaults happening inside our correctional facilities. These prison closures, coupled with failed policies like the HALT Act, which eliminates and restricts the use of important disciplinary tools to segregate the most disruptive, violent and dangerous inmates from the rest of the general population, has created a dangerous powder-keg environment inside our correctional facilities. In addition, this administration continues to refuse to provide our correction officers with adequate staffing, tools and resources they need to be safe. Its answer is to jam more violent inmates into fewer facilities. These dangerous policies will continue to lead to even more violence, putting our correction officers and staff at even greater risk.

Since HALT was implemented in 2022, we have seen a staggering spike in violence inside our correctional facilities. In the past two years, inmate-on-staff assaults have increased by 42%, which represents more than 500 incidents, to a record high of 1,671 instances, and inmate-on-inmate assaults have increased by 90%, representing more than 1,000 incidents, to a record high of 2,107. This is dangerous and completely unacceptable.

Even as the prison population in New York has declined from 56,000 to 32,000 inmates and the state has closed more than 25 correction facilities since 2011, violent assaults remain on the rise. Since 2011, inmate-on-staff assaults have increased by 197%, inmate-on-inmate assaults are up 217% and contraband seizures are also up 53%.

The data is crystal clear: Closing prisons and jamming more inmates into fewer facilities while taking away important disciplinary tools to segregate the most violent and disruptive inmates and not providing our correction officers with the staffing, tools and resources they need to be safe has resulted in the most violent and dangerous conditions inside our correctional facilities in our state’s history.

We should repeal the failed and dangerous HALT Act. This administration must finally take significant action to address the violence crisis and rising assaults happening inside our prisons today. We should address the staffing crisis by aggressively increasing the pay and benefits for our correction officers and staff. We need to provide our correction officers with important tools and resources, such as body scanners and drug dogs, at every correctional facility to help keep the drugs and contraband out of our prisons, which has contributed to the rising violence and assaults. Finally, it is long past due for this administration to treat our correction officers and civilian staff as the professionals they are and with the respect they deserve and have earned.

Assemblyman Palmesano represents the 132nd District, which includes Schuyler County, Yates County and parts of Chemung County, Seneca County and Steuben County.

Photo in text: Asssemblyman Phil Palmesano

© The Odessa File 2024
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

E-mail publisher@odessafile.com