ALBANY, NY – Union Officials at NYSCOPBA, the union that represents 18,000 correction officers and sergeants, applauds the passage of the bill (A.702) by the State Assembly on Monday to end the practice of double bunking in medium-security state correctional facilities.
“Forcing incarcerated individuals to be “double-bunked” was a necessary step decades ago when the state had to increase the capacity of its prison system, but that need no longer exists,” said New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association President Michael Powers. “By passing legislation prohibiting this outdated practice, the state is finally right-sizing the system with the safety and security of our staff in mind. On behalf of the brave men and women of NYSCOPBA, I’d like to thank Assemblyman Jones for his tireless efforts carrying this bill through, and to the Legislative leadership for hearing our members’ concerns and doing what was right. I urge Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation into law immediately.”
Prior to the COIVD pandemic, regulations allowed for up to 60 inmates to be housed in a medium security dorm, with 10 such inmates living in double-bunked cubicles designed for one inmate. During COVID, dorm facilities have adjusted their practices of double bunking in the interest of public health. By making this regulation change in statute, this will ensure there is no return to this practice.
The bill was introduced in the Assembly by Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake), a retired state corrections officer. The legislation passed the State Senate in late April.
“As a 20-year correction officer, I’ve worked in dorms that utilize double bunks to house inmates. The prison setting is stressful enough without requiring a single officer to supervise 60 inmates during a shift. The practice of double bunking is irresponsible and outdated. The need to address the overcrowding in medium dorms by removing double bunks and limiting the number of inmates in those dorms to a maximum of 50 is well overdue. The passage of this bill is a step forward to ensuring our hard working correctional staff, who came to work day in and day out during the public health crisis, are working in safer conditions and I urge the Governor to sign this legislation,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones.