State legislators joined New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) officials outside Elmira Correctional Facility on Wednesday to call for a repeal of the HALT solitary confinement law.
The Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act (HALT) limits the amount of time an incarcerated person can be in solitary confinement to 15 days maximum.
Legislators, union officials say HALT Act puts prison staff in jeopardy
The HALT Act was approved by the Legislature in 2021 and signed into law by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
State Senator Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Chris Friend and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano spoke outside in Elmira on Wednesday, August 17 alongside NYSCOPBA President Michael Powers and Western Region Vice President Kenny Gold at the “Restore Safety in our Facilities” rally.
Together, they called on New York Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislative leaders to repeal the law, which they say severely limits the ability of prison officials to discipline violent inmates.
NYSCOPBA: Inmate assaults on prison staff rose 36% since April of this year
Earlier this year, NYSCOPBA asked Hochul to pause HALT’s implementation.
NYSCOPOBA has repeatedly stated the HALT law’s enactment would put correctional officers at greater risk, citing the spike in inmate attacks on prison staff.
According to the union’s data, overall violence at NYS correctional facilities has increased 36% since April 1.
During the week ending May 22, a single-week high was set with 41 prison staff members assaulted system-wide, said the union in a statement.
The spike in assaults, in conjunction with declining officer recruitment numbers and increased retirements since HALT’s implementation, amounts to a crisis inside correctional facilities, according to NYSCOPBA representatives.
O’Mara, Friend, and Palmesano currently co-sponsor legislation to repeal HALT.
They noted that the Elmira Correctional Facility is the second-most dangerous prison in New York State for staff and inmates.
At the end of the rally, the lawmakers and NYSCOBPA members again called on Hochul and the Legislature’s Democrat majorities to take immediate action to repeal the HALT Act.