Statement From Assemblyman Phil Palmesano Following a Tour with Assembly Minority Colleagues of Correctional Facilities on Rikers Island

"After touring Rikers Island yesterday with my Assembly colleagues and speaking with members of the New York City (NYC) Department of Corrections and NYC Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), it is clear we must sound the alarm and have an immediate call to action for NYC and New York state to address the dangerous staffing, violence, security and safety crisis going on inside our city correctional facilities and facilities across the state.

"We have seen a 30% drop in city correction officers (more than 4000 members) since 2019, with approximately 100 members resigning or retiring every month. It is absolutely imperative for the city to invest more resources in our current correction officers and more into hiring new officers. This is critical to help address the staffing shortage crisis, ensure the safety of staff and inmates and curtail the rising violence and dangerous work environment our brave and dedicated correction officers and staff face every single day.

"With more than 40% of city correction officers being female, coupled with the sexual assaults they have encountered, it is long past time for the state to pass legislation (A.1606/S.5506) to make sexual assault against correction officers a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, and for district attorneys to do their jobs and prosecute these violent offenses.

"Since the implementation of the HALT Act, we have seen a dramatic spike in violence inside our correctional facilities. Stabbings alone have increased inside Rikers from 123 to 491 from 2020 to 2022. It is imperative for the governor and Legislature to act to immediately repeal HALT and allow for the segregation of the most dangerous and violent inmates from the rest of the general population.

"And finally, it is long past time for the city and state to put the safety and interests of our brave law enforcement and correction officers ahead of the interests of murderers and rapists."