ALBANY -- If you work in the state prison system, not handling your new lunch box with care may cost you.
The state Corrections Department said it will charge workers $9 if it finds workers were negligent in how they treat the new clear, plastic bags that are being issued for use inside New York's 54 prisons.
The agency said it has paid nearly $300,000 to buy 32,000 plastic bags for employees as a way to cut down on contraband being slipped into the prison system -- a move that comes after the prison break at the Dannemora facility nearly two years ago.
If a worker mistreats his or her bag, or loses it, the state could dock the work $9 for a new one, the state said.
But "if the bag is no longer usable due to substantial wear," the agency will replace the bag free of charge.
The Corrections Department over the past two years has installed new technology and a new vendor package program "to crack down on contraband in the state’s correctional facilities," said Thomas Mailey, a agency spokesman. "The clear bag program is simply the latest step in that effort."
The Albany Bureau for the USA Today Network reported last week on the new policy, and the union for the state's corrections officers has since criticized the change.
The state Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association recently sought an injunction to block the clear bags from being mandated, but a judge rejected the request.
The union's spokesman Jim Miller said a case will still be brought to court in an effort to fight the change, saying the policy should be focused on visitors and not on corrections officials.
"Contraband has skyrocketed to historic levels over the past several years as a result of visitors bringing illegal drugs into the prisons during inmate visits, as well as packages that contain contraband getting through screening," Miller said in a statement.
"Those are the areas the administration should be concentrating on. Not engaging in improper practices against our membership, who perform their jobs with professionalism and integrity every day."
Mailey knocked the union for opposing the clear-bag mandate, which comes after two inmates broke out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in June 2015. One, Richard Matt, was shot and killed by authorities; the other, David Sweat, was captured.
Their escape was aided by two prison workers, who slipped tools to the convicted murderers to help them cut through walls and pipes.
"Who would have thought that the union, charged with maintaining the safety and security of our correctional facilities, would oppose such a common sense change that has been recommended by both the state inspector general and the National Institute of Corrections," Mailey said