I am writing this petition as not only a concerned citizen of NYS but also as a concerned wife of a NYS Correctional Officer. In the past four days alone, there has been an assault on Officers by inmates at four different Correctional Facilities. In the first month of the new year, there has been over 60 assaults on Officers and Civilian Staff within our Prison Facilities. Last year there were over 700 assaults on Officers and Staff. Governor Cuomo, and NYSDOCCS like to play with these numbers as not to alert the public of the true violence within our Correctional Facilities that consistently is increasing. The safety of our Officers and Civilian Staff is at an all time high risk. And yet our Governor and the Department of Corrections refuses to see this and refuses to address the issue. Our Officers provide a community service, they vow and are committed to keep our communities safe. A service the Governor and the Department refuses to acknowledge. You may ask why there is an increase in the violence, I’ll tell you why. The Governor has closed and is continuing to close many Correctional Facilities, hence overcrowding those that remain in service. He is double bunking inmates and while some may not see a problem with this unfortunately there is. It increases the aggravation amongst the inmates. It increases contraband and other illegal acts. Which in turn increases the dangers our Officers are facing daily. Since he has also been closing many of our Mental Health Facilities and cutting their staff; he is mixing mentally ill in with general population creating dangerous conditions for not Officers and Staff but for those that are in need of mental health rehabilitation. He is reclassifying our more serious and violent inmates and placing them in medium security facilities rather than in maximum security facilities where they belong. More recently, it has been found inhumane to punish inmates for misbehaving or violent behavior while incarcerated within NYS Correctional Facilities. Apparently a study has been performed and lawsuits against the state with the support of various civil liberty groups; that the use of Solitary Confinement/SHU aka “the box” is found to more mentally damaging and inhumane. But if you think about it then, we are told as parents to discipline our children we should use time outs and take away privileges to teach our children there are rules to be followed and what is accepting in society; so by taking away the use of Solitary Confinement as disciplinary measures for violent behavior, disobeying the rules of the Correctional Facility System; how are we educating those that are incarcerated for violating the rules of society to begin with. If they can’t follow the rules in prison, how are they to be rehabilitated to follow the rules once again of society. Isn’t this teaching them that there are no consequences for their actions and violations? The Governor has closed and dismantled many rehabilitation programs available in our prisons. And now has tied the hands of our Officers all while discouraging the use of solitary confinement. Inmates are now seeing this as "that they can get away with whatever they want" and there are no repercussions or consequences for their actions and violent behavior. This type of negligence is placing our Officers and Civilian Staff in more dangerous positions. It also places other inmates who are trying to obey. attend what rehabilitating programs that are left and serve their time, in harms way; putting their safety in jeopardy. Yes the Officers and Staff knew when taking this career choice that there was always the possibility of a threat or harm. But they didn’t expect their employers to turn there backs on them. They didn’t expect to have to face this alone with no support. Correctional Officers have no protection other than their fellow officers, common sense, their own courage and personal strength. Their belief in doing the right thing and doing what is needed to keep all safe. They are responsible for all human life within the walls of our correctional facilities not just their fellow officers and civilian staff. And for the communities outside the walls as well. Corrections Officers are the forgotten ones. Once a felon has been sentenced to prison, the public no longer thinks of them. They are just happy that justice has been served with no further thought of who it is that actually keeps them locked up and sees to their rehabilitation. The issues of increasing violence within our NYS Correctional Facilities needs to be addressed and the inmates need to know there are consequences for their violent behavior. Our Correctional Officers and Civilian Staff who put their lives on the line daily, need to know they have the support of the public for which they serve.
Patricia Mitchell started this petition with a single signature, and now has 1,906 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.