Elmira Correctional has witnessed a sharp increase in assaults on correctional officers recently.
According to NYSCOPBA Western Region Vice President Kenny Gold, this surge appears to be tied to the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, signed into law in April 2022. This legislation, after extended debates, limits the usage of solitary confinement, specifying which prisoners can be confined and for how long.
Data from Elmira shows 58 assaults on staff and 104 inmate-on-inmate incidents just this year. Highlighting the escalating tension, events from July to September saw multiple officers injured, some severely, following inmate altercations.
Gold expressed deep concern over the act, claiming it not only puts officers at risk but also curtails penalties for inmates involved in violent incidents. The law stipulates a maximum of 15 days in special housing for certain infractions, potentially emboldening some inmates.
Gold points out that inmates now perceive limited consequences for their actions, thereby potentially escalating violence against officers and fellow inmates. Moreover, the facility, like many across the state, grapples with severe understaffing, exacerbated by mandatory overtime policies and recent prison closures. This intense workload and concerns about job security are leading to significant staff attrition, with officers working long shifts and facing increasing danger daily.
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