Photos show injured corrections officers as assaults in NY state prisons rise
News 12 is continuing to investigate the increasingly violent conditions behind bars in New York state prisons.
This time, new reports of rising attacks against corrections officers are beginning to surface. Chris Moreau, the vice president of NYSCOBA – the union representing state corrections officers – gave News 12 exclusive photos of members with black eyes, bruises and in one case, facial burns, after several assaults on duty at prisons statewide in recent weeks.
“I have guys coming home with their faces cut open, permanent scars. Physically and mentally,” said Moreau. “Their children are looking at them like they’re monsters because they have 50 stitches in their face.”
Newly released state data shows a 34% rise in violence at state prisons since April 1.
“It’s no longer you might be assaulted one or two times during your career, said Moreau. “It’s you might be assaulted one or two times this week.”
Last year, New York passed the Humane Alternatives to Long Term Solitary Confinement (HALT) Act – restricting prison solitary confinement times and banning its use for certain age groups and people with disabilities. Moreau believes the attacks have been increasing because inmates are “taking full advantage” of minimal repercussions.
The New York Civil Liberties Union backs the changes calling solitary confinement a “form of torture” and “potentially fatal” in prolonged periods.
Moreau has a different perspective and says HALT is the reason for the rise in violence and is why many officers aren’t returning.
“We have lost all of our disciplinary systems because of HALT and because of that there’s no deterrent to misbehave in prison,” said Moreau.
State Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) introduced a bill in May to repeal HALT.
A representative for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said a Prison Violence Task Force was created last year to evaluate and develop better safety measures, and that it supports holding violent offenders "fully accountable by law.”
News 12 reached out to the governor’s office for comment but has not heard back.