February 14, 2018
ALBANY, NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo’s chief counsel, issued a statement about a report that came out this week, about prisons in New York State:
“We have received a copy of the report on the ‘worst local jails’ in New York State. The report, which we will thoroughly review, instructively highlights the five most problematic facilities among the 74 that the state oversees. There is no doubt that we will demand focus and an expeditious resolution to these systemic, unconscionable and illegal conditions. The current plan to close Rikers Island Jail on a 10-year timeline is wholly unacceptable and repugnant to federal and state constitutional principles. The governor, who has been fighting for meaningful criminal justice reform his entire career, has repeatedly said 10 years is too long because ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ The governor’s vision for New York as the progressive capital of the nation is not rhetorical, but rather results driven. A fair, safe, and humane criminal justice system is essential for our state, and we will make it such.”
On Monday, the governor stated the following:
“New York’s correction officers work day in and day out ensure the security of our communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “The current system, however, makes it difficult to hold bad actors fully accountable. The bottom line is that those who break the law and abuse their positions of power must be held responsible for their misconduct, and this proposal will help to ensure accountability and promote safety in the correctional system.”
From Assemblyman Phil Palmesano:
“The governor’s announcement earlier this week makes our correction officers sound like criminals. It was wrong. It neither helps morale nor reinforces to our brave men and women who work in dangerous jobs that we have their backs. This administration certainly appears to prioritize the criminal over the correction officer, which is making our prisons more violent and dangerous. The governor proudly boasts about closing 13 correctional facilities but fails to take responsibility for the powder keg environment his administration has created in recent years at the maximum and medium security prisons all across our state. The numbers speak for themselves. Inmate assaults on correction officers are up 52 percent since 2012 (524 to 798). Inmate-on-inmate assaults are up 87 percent over the same period (652-1220).
“Our prisons are too violent because the governor closed facilities and fails to provide adequate staffing, all while refusing to end dangerous practices like double-bunking and double-celling inmates. There are currently over 6,000 double-bunks and double-cells in our correctional facilities. In addition, drugs continue to pour into our prisons, making inmates erratic, aggressive and violent, yet the governor continues to take important tools away from our correction officers so they cannot do their jobs safely and effectively. Restricting the use of special housing units for violent inmates, refusing to dispatch drug dogs in every correctional facility, and canceling a pilot program that would have helped stop drugs from getting into these facilities are all mistakes the governor needs to be held accountable for. Even as he fails to provide the tools and resources correction officers need to be safe and do their jobs, he goes out of his way to provide every inmate with luxury items like tablets.
“Really? Where are his priorities?
“In his announcement yesterday, the governor said the following:
‘The bottom line is that those who break the law and abuse their positions of power must be held responsible for their misconduct.’
“That statement would be better directed toward his former top aides on trial for public corruption.”
The above statement from Palmesano, is rare, in that the assemblyman is known for low key rhetoric and working both sides of the aisle, so the statement issued today indicates how strongly Palmesano feels about this issue.