NYSCOPBA calls on state to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the prison system

Prisons have been hotspots throughout pandemic 

ALBANY, NY — Michael B. Powers, President of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (NYSCOPBA), today called on the Governor and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to take immediate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside New York’s prison system. This plea comes as the state’s positivity rate creeps higher as we head into the holiday season.

“With COVID-19 rates beginning to spike throughout New York, we are calling on the Governor and DOCCS to take immediate steps to prevent any outbreaks inside the facilities where my members serve the people of this State. We are requesting that all non-essential inmate movement cease, visitations be paused and inmates be placed in an ‘every other cubical’ setting inside prison dormitories,” stated Powers.

When COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the State in the first and second quarters of the year, NYSCOPBA relentlessly pursued the implementation of safety measures for the protection of its members and the incarcerated population. The union’s insistence on these preventative measures is the primary reason that the infection rate remained so low inside the prison system for several months. However, the recent easing of these restrictions has resulted in virus outbreaks inside the prison walls of several prisons in New York. NYSCOPBA points to renewed efforts in recent weeks with respect to outbreaks at Greene and Elmira Correctional Facilities as evidence of the benefits of immediate remedial action by the State.

“New York should once again heed NYSCOPBA’s call to put immediate safeguards in place before additional outbreaks occur. When the positivity rates inside Greene and Elmira exploded, NYSCOPBA called for the stoppage of visitations and nonessential transports, as well as implementing social distancing and rapid testing for staff. As a result, we’ve seen the positive levels decline significantly in those two prisons. The state needs to act now, system-wide, before it’s too late,” said Powers.