A string of violent incidents at one of the region’s prisons has prompted state and union leaders to speak out.
It happened at Elmira Correctional Facility, according to NYSCOPBA. There were a number of other violent incidents reported by the organization during the month of May.
On Wednesday, May, 13 an officer was escorting an inmate back to his cell after a disciplinary hearing. The inmate refused to enter his cell. The officer attempted to apply handcuffs when the inmate abruptly turned and struck the officer twice in the face. He turned again and struck a second officer in the face. A
third officer responded to the cell and he was punched in the face by the inmate.
After being treated at the facility, two officers were transferred to Arnot Ogden Medical Center for treatment. One officer sustained a fractured thumb, pain and swelling to his face and knee. He was treated and released, according to NYSCOPA. The second officer sustained head, face and knee pain and swelling. He was kept at the hospital for observation for a concussion. A third officer sustained a cut under his left eye. He was treated by facility medical staff and remained on duty.
Seven more officers sustained injuries after an incident that unfolded on May 26. Initially, an officer observed the inmate exchange an unknown item with another inmate. The officer ordered the inmate to submit to a frisk. Just prior to the frisk, the inmate struck the officer multiple times in the head. Four officers immediately responded to the scene. They attempted to get the inmate in a body hold. Even more combative now, he picked one officer up in the air and slammed him to the ground. He struck a third officer in the face multiple times knocking him backward to the ground. Two additional officers responded to the incident.
The inmate was placed in a body hold and forced to the ground. Still fighting on the ground with officers, he was placed in handcuffs. Once in handcuffs, the inmate became compliant. He was removed from the cell block and placed in a Special Housing Unit pending disciplinary charges. Six officers were transported to Arnot Ogden Medical Center for treatment of a variety of pain and swelling to hands, knees, face and shoulder. They were treated and released.
The 31-year-old inmate was placed in a Special Housing Unit pending disciplinary charges. He is serving a seven year sentence after being convicted in Cayuga County second-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree assault in 2021.
In addition to those two violent assaults, two officers were injured in two separate attacks on May 17 and May 19.
“It has become a broken record of sorts reporting weekly on staff being attacked by inmates. The reality is, until the disciplinary system is strengthened, we will continue to bring to light the assaults that plague our prisons. Eight officers needing hospital treatment at one prison is simply unacceptable,” said Mark Deburgomaster, NYSCOPBA Western Region Vice President. “State Legislators need to open their eyes to the constant danger our members face and strengthen policies that will help deter these attacks from occurring. This also applies to inmate on inmate assaults. Last
Thursday, staff needed to deploy chemical agents to stop six inmates from fighting in the recreation yard. Not before several inmates were cut with make-shift weapons. It is simply incomprehensible that our elected officials would sit back and let this violence continue without making meaningful changes that will protect staff and inmates.”
Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-58) condemned the incidents and called for action. “Governor Cuomo and the Legislature’s Democratic supermajorities have been solely focused on coddling inmates by severely hampering disciplinary sanctions, finding ways to parole more and more inmates, and diminishing the ability of correctional officers to deal with violence inside prisons,” he said in a news release. “These ongoing attacks inside the Elmira Correctional Facility should serve as a stark reminder that steps are needed to better protect corrections officers, prison staff, inmates themselves, and the overall safety and security within the walls of our prisons. This must include a revitalized action plan to cut down on the dangerous drugs, weapons, and other contraband finding its way into our correctional facilities and contributing to a rise in violence. Our correctional officers are extremely concerned about rising violence inside prisons and I share that concern. Governor Cuomo and New York’s current legislative leadership are moving in the completely opposite and wrong direction. It’s a carefree approach to criminal justice and corrections, and it’s irresponsible and dangerous.”
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