State corrections officers support end to double-bunking in medium-security dormitories

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ALBANY – Union officials at the New York State Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association have lauded the passage of state legislation to end the practice of double bunking in medium-security state correctional facilities.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

“Forcing incarcerated individuals to be ‘double-bunked was a necessary step decades ago when the state had to increase the capacity of its prison system, but that need no longer exists,” said union President Michael Powers. “By passing legislation prohibiting this outdated practice, the state is finally right-sizing the system with the safety and security of our staff in mind.”

Prior to the COVID pandemic,  regulations allowed for up to 60 inmates to be housed in a medium-security dorm, with 10 such inmates living in double-bunked cubicles designed for one inmate. During COVID, dorm facilities have adjusted their practices of double-bunking in the interest of public health.

Powers said by making this regulation change in statute, there is no return to this practice.”

The legislation passed in the Senate in April. More recently it was approved in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblyman Billy Jones (D, Chateaugay Lake), a retired state corrections officer.

“As a 20-year corrections officer, I’ve worked in dorms that utilize double bunks to house inmates,” he said. The prison setting is stressful enough without requiring a single officer to supervise 60 inmates during a shift. The practice of double-bunking is irresponsible and outdated.”