Skip to content
Home » News » New York State » NY bill pushes for transparency in prison water quality

NY bill pushes for transparency in prison water quality

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

New York state legislators are advocating for increased transparency regarding water quality in prisons, following complaints from inmates at a correctional facility about the poor condition of their drinking water. State Sen. Pete Harckham has introduced a bill mandating the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to publicly release water testing results from the state’s 44 prisons. The move aims to ensure the health of incarcerated individuals and staff by making these reports accessible on the DOCCS website and within the facilities themselves.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The legislation, spurred by concerns over “undrinkable and unusable” water reported by inmates at Green Haven Correctional Facility, seeks to enhance environmental protection and foster better relations between correctional facilities and their surrounding communities. Sen. Julia Salazar highlighted a letter from over 200 inmates at Green Haven detailing the negative impact of water quality on their health, emphasizing the widespread nature of this issue across the state’s correctional system.

DOCCS has responded to the proposed bill, stating that water at Green Haven is sourced from three wells, treated to meet state health and quality standards, and complies with regulatory requirements. Although annual water quality reports are currently prepared and shared internally, Harckham’s bill would extend this transparency to the public, marking a significant step toward addressing health and environmental concerns within New York’s prisons. The bill has passed the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee and is scheduled for a full Senate vote, with similar measures yet to be introduced in the state Assembly.