ALBANY, NY – New York State lawmakers are looking into the impact the coronavirus has had on jails and prisons.
NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on what precautions have been taken to ensure safety for workers and those incarcerated.
((Luis R. Sepúlveda, NYS Senator)) Now that DOCCS is open for visitation and transfers, I want to make sure that our incarcerated population is safe. I want to make sure that our correctional staff have the tools, training and supplies they need to keep everyone healthy.
The Commissioner of the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says the number of those incarcerated stands under 37,000 people and that a number of actions were taken from the beginning of the pandemic to maintain safety.
((Anthony J. Annucci, Acting DOCCS Commissioner)) removing non-essential staff from the workplace, the difficult decision of suspending visitation and programs, deploying masks to staff, and the incarcerated population to making hand sanitizers available.
There have also been “early release opportunities” for certain people serving time. He says the Department has expanded testing, offering more than 13,000 COVID diagnostic tests to those incarcerated.
((Anthony J. Annucci, Acting DOCCS Commissioner)) The results were 773 positive cases, 11,201 negative cases. Also, the department has had 1329 positive staff cases, of which 98% have recovered and returned to work.
In total there have been 17 COVID related fatalities of incarcerated individuals, 5 staff deaths and 4 parolee deaths.
It’s a much different side-by-side comparison when you look at the toll the virus has taken on other congregate facilities like nursing homes.
((Betty Little, NYS Senator))
It could have been, a really huge problem for the state to have had this spread within our prison population.
Due to low infection rates DOCCS has also “gradually” reintroduced non-essential staff, and resumed some vocational and academic programs.