Union seeks end to visitations

Attica Correctional Facility

ALBANY — The state corrections officers union is calling for an immediate end to inmate visitation at prisons that are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Recently, Elmira Correctional Facility saw an uptick in both staff and inmate positive tests, with more than 30 positive cases and more than 120 individuals under quarantine,” NYS Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association said. “At Greene Correctional Facility more than 70 inmates have tested positive in the last two weeks and there are close to 300 tests pending. More facilities are on the brink.”

Inmate visitation resumed in early August, ending a 20-week span that barred visitors.

With a second wave of virus being predicted, the union wants to quell any further outbreaks.

“COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the U.S. over the past seven days,” NYSCOPBA wrote in a letter released Wednesday. “Governor Cuomo unveiled new lockdown measures for recent “micro-clusters” in and around the New York City area that are surging, and similar lockdown measures should be applied to State Prisons where the coronavirus is surging. Visitation should be immediately suspended at hotspot facilities and DOCCS should require anyone who visits an incarcerated inmate provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 14 days.

“Nursing homes across the state have had serious restrictions placed on them when it pertains to family visitation. Should similar standards be put in place at state prisons for those wishing to visit convicted felons? Staff should expect no less protections from our Governor and DOCCS.”

Overall, state prisons have had a total of 886 positive cases of COVID, with 761 inmates recovering and 17 dying.

Locally, COVID has not been much of a problem.

Albion Correctional Facility, a women’s prison, has had 9 positive cases. All recovered.

Orleans, Wyoming and Groveland facilities have had no cases.

Attica has had three, with all the inmates recovering.

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