Union wants state to take action to keep COVID-19 out of Ogdensburg, Gouverneur prisons
The president of the union representing state corrections officers, including those at Ogdensburg and Gouverneur prisons, is calling on state officials to "take immediate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside New York’s prison system."
Michael B. Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), in a statement says the plea comes as the state’s positivity rate creeps higher heading into the holiday season.“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 said in a prepared statement.
When COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the state in the first and second quarters of the year, NYSCOPBA "relentlessly pursued the implementation of safety measures for the protection of its members and the incarcerated population," the union said.
"The union’s insistence on these preventative measures is the primary reason that the infection rate remained so low inside the prison system for several months," a NYSCOPBA news release says.
The union claims the recent easing of these restrictions has resulted in virus outbreaks inside several prisons in New York.
"NYSCOPBA points to renewed efforts in recent weeks with respect to outbreaks at Greene and Elmira Correctional Facilities as evidence of the benefits of immediate remedial action by the State," the union said.
“New York should once again heed NYSCOPBA’s call to put immediate safeguards in place before additional outbreaks occur. 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,” Powers's statement said.