Updated 02/18/2011 05:45 AM
Union concerned budget cuts could lead to more double bunking in prisons
Governor Cuomo's budget plan calls for the closure and consolidation of some of the state's 67 prisons. Now, the state correctional workers union is pushing back, saying Cuomo's plan to close the budget gap means close quarters for thousands of the state's inmates. Our Sabina Kuriakose has more from both sides.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Imagine spending your days inside an 8x6 cell, not alone, but with a roommate. That's the reality for thousands in lockup in New York State who "double bunk."
NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe said, "The placing of two highly dangerous and violent felons in areas designed for one one inmate."
The state's correctional workers union says that's led to a spike in prison violence over the past decade. The union is protesting the Department of Correctional Services' proposal to cut 3,500 inmate beds as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2011 budget proposal - a move that would eventually lead to the closure of some prisons.
Rowe said, "More cuts will mean more inmates jammed in tighter quarters, and ultimately it will mean more violence between inmates, more suicides, and more violent acts on our officers."
Officials said there's already about 13,000 prisoners around the state double bunked in cells that are about the size of most people's bathrooms.
Firing back, the Department of Correctional Services said the state's prisons are safe and that cutting extra beds would not lead to more double bunking. Local facilities NYSCOPBA said would be hit by increased double bunking include Greene, Coxsackie, Hudson, Mount McGregor, Great Meadow, and Washington correctional facilities.
Many state legislators have also raised concerns over the prison closure plan, so you can expect this to be a contentious issue until the budget is due on April 1.