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NYSCOPBA calling on New York State to prevent spread of COVID-19 in prisons

Since the restrictions have been eased back, Michael B. Powers, president of NYSCOPBA, says it has resulted in COVID-19 outbreaks inside several New York prisons.

ALBANY, N.Y. — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in New York State, and across the country, the New York State Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (NYSCOPBA) is calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to take immediate action to stop the spread of COVID-19 within the prison system.

Michael B. Powers, president of NYSCOPBA, released a statement saying in part, “With COVID-19 rates beginning to spike throughout New York, we are calling on the governor and DOCCS to take immediate steps to prevent any outbreaks inside the facilities where my members serve the people of this State. We are requesting that all non-essential inmate movement cease, visitations be paused and inmates be placed in an ‘every other cubical’ setting inside prison dormitories."

Powers says during the first wave of the pandemic, NYSCOPBA had "relentlessly pursued the implementation of safety measures for the protection of its members and the incarcerated population." Powers further states that the infection rate in New York State prisons remained low due to the union's insistence of these restrictions.

Since the restrictions have been eased back, Powers says it has resulted in COVID-19 outbreaks inside several New York prisons.

“New York should once again heed NYSCOPBA’s call to put immediate safeguards in place before additional outbreaks occur," Powers said. "When the positivity rates inside Greene and Elmira exploded, NYSCOPBA called for the stoppage of visitations and nonessential transports, as well as implementing social distancing and rapid testing for staff. As a result, we’ve seen the positive levels decline significantly in those two prisons. The state needs to act now, system-wide, before it’s too late."