NYS Corrections Officers Call For Massive Changes After Violent Year
So in the past, I have written about the difficulties our men and women in law enforcement face every day they are on the job. They go to work without the certainty of knowing if they will be going back home at the end of the day.
However, there is a division of our law enforcement that I think we sometimes forget about. These officers are the individuals who go to work at corrections facilities. They are the ones who deal with the criminals after the legal process has been carried out and they begin to serve their sentences.
Corrections officers of New York State are now speaking out and demanding massive changes after what is being called "the most violent year ever in New York State prisons."
HALT Act Legislation is Passed and Implemented
Recently, officials from the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, or NYSCOPBA, have come out and continued to attempt a repeal of the HALT Act.
This piece of legislation was passed back in 2021 and went into effect a year later in 2022. The act was established essentially to protect inmates from extreme forms of punishment.
The act also set new established and set guidelines...
for humane conditions in segregated confinement, outlines reporting requirements, and adds due process protections by prohibiting placement in segregated confinement prior to a disciplinary hearing and by allowing access to counsel.
Horrifying Data Collected After HALT Act
Nearly a year after the HALT Act legislation went into effect, the corrections officers union is demanding change after data results were released regarding the number of violent assaults that occurred throughout NYS prisons.
The results of the data showed that 2022 became the most violent year ever for NYS facilities. The violent events were broken down into two categories: those categories were "Assaults on Staff" and "Inmate-Inmate Assaults."
Assaults on Staff increased to 1,489, surpassing the previous record of 1,177. Inmate-Inmate assaults increased to 1,486 surpassing the previous record of 1,265. In total, the 2,975 assaults broke the record for most total assaults in a single year, surpassing the record of 2,298 which was set in 2019.
Michael Powers, the president of the NYSCOPBA spoke on the data collected and stated...
The HALT Act has dismantled any semblance of safety measures for staff or incarcerated individuals alike....Now more than ever we need the New York State Legislature to put common sense over political agendas and address the skyrocketing violence we’ve been experiencing since the enactment of the HALT Act.”
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The Ethical Dilemma Regarding Safety and Protection
This entire scenario brings together a difficult ethical debate. Criminals in these facilities are criminals for things they did while among the rest of society, however, that doesn't mean that inside of jail or prison, they should be subject to extreme or egregious forms of punishment. On the other hand, staff members and officers should be able to administer particular and adequate punishment to an inmate according to the actions they committed, especially if that resulted in injury to staff members or anyone else inside the prison.
Safety and protection are at the center of this topic. The union is doing its job and advocating for the people they represent and the legislators did what they believed to be right by putting forth legislation that benefited inmates. Does either side outweigh the other? Is it possible that a median can be reached where both sides can be kept safe and protected without the cost being the safety and protection of the other? Whatever the case may be, something will have to be done, because violence as the numbers show, is out of control.
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