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Newly released state data shows inmate violence against staff on the rise

There are renewed concerns about a dangerous uptick in violence against corrections officers as newly released state data shows it could be a record-breaking year when it comes to the number of assaults against staff in prisons.

Blaise Gomez

Oct 5, 2022, 8:12 PM

Updated 599 days ago

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There are renewed concerns about a dangerous uptick in violence against corrections officers as newly released state data shows it could be a record-breaking year when it comes to the number of assaults against staff in prisons. 
A report released by the Department of Community Corrections and Supervision on Oct. 1 says there were 1,112 assaults against prison staff in 2022, compared to 1,177 in 2021. 
“We are on pace to break the all-time record for assaults, and we’re likely to hit that number this week with three months to spare,” said Chris Moreau, vice president of NYSCOPBA’s Mid-Hudson region. 
Moreau says assaults behind bars against both inmates and staff are up at state correctional facilities to more than eight incidents a day since April – when the state’s HALT Act loosening restrictions on inmates took effect. 
 “Lawmakers could not be more out of touch. We are taking these hardened criminals on good faith that they’re not going to assault us or each other, and they do,” said Moreau. 
The union representing state corrections officers wants HALT changed or repealed. 
HALT supporters say the law ends inhumane practices behind bars such as solitary confinement and supports human rights. 
Sen. James Skoufis voted for HALT. 
He told News 12 Wednesday that the new data is “alarming” and “deserves Albany’s focus,” adding that he’s open to revisiting the law and putting safeguards in place to “correct any unintended consequences.” 
Moreau says the union is calling for a full repeal, or at minimum, changes to make prisons safer for staff and inmates. 
“We cannot continue at this pace,” said Moreau. 
News 12 reached out to the Department of Community Corrections and Supervision and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office for comment but hasn’t heard back.  
."The safety and well-being of staff and incarcerated individuals is our top priority," a representative for DOCCS said in a statement. "The Department has zero tolerance for violence within our facilities and anyone engaged in misconduct will be disciplined, and if warranted, incidents will be referred for outside prosecution. Since the effective date of the HALT Act, the Department has closely monitored the Special Housing Units and Residential Rehabilitation Units (RRU) and seen an escalation of violence that has occurred in not only RRUs, but other areas of the facilities. This violence has been perpetrated against both staff and the incarcerated population. As a result of this uptick in violence, all Superintendents who supervise an RRU were directed to utilize restraints any time an incarcerated individual is under escort and while participating in out-of-cell programming for the immediate safety of all staff and incarcerated individuals. We continue to evaluate the violence, review the use of restraints and have removed restraints where there is no threat to safety of staff or incarcerated individuals."
Click HERE to read the full report.


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