Corrections Chair David Weprin, Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa Call for 7-Day Visitation at NY Medium Security Prisons and Restoration of Free Transportation for Visiting

Albany, New York –Assemblyman David Weprin, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction, and Assemblymember De La Rosa called for the restoration of seven day visiting at New York State medium-security prisons as well as for the reinstatement of free transportation for the inmate visiting program.

A7241 (Weprin) restores seven day visitation in medium security facilities, which already exists in minimum and maximum security facilities. The bill would also codify the already operational seven day prison visiting programs at minimum and maximum security DOCCS facilities. A7016 (De La Rosa) restores transportation for visitors from certain cities to state correctional facilities. Operational from 1976 – 2011, the transportation program allowed for bus service on weekends from New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany to every prison in the state.

“The amount gained by limiting visitation in our prisons does not match what is lost” said Assemblyman David Weprin “Increased visiting has been proven to reduce recidivism, as visits help family members maintain ties and help incarcerated individuals transition to a life outside prison after release” said Assemblyman David Weprin, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction. “On top of that, there is evidence to suggest that more visiting means less violence in prisons, which means a better work environment for both civilian and security employees in New York’s prisons. And even if we look at it from a cost standpoint, reduced recidivism would greatly lower costs for the state in the long term.”

“As a member of the Assembly Corrections Committee, I am proud to be the lead sponsor of A.7016 which reinstates the free transportation systems for visits to state prisons. This system was operational in our state from 1973 to 2011, when it was eliminated for a cost savings of $1.5 Million in a Department of Corrections budget of $3 Billion. Studies have shown that family visitation contributes to reductions in recidivism and improved inmate behavior which results in safer prisons and cost savings in the long run” said Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa.” There are close to 100,000 children in our New York State who have an incarcerated parent. When you look at communities who have families that have been historically and disproportionately affected by criminal justice policies in our state, it is incumbent upon us to find solutions that foster a family’s ability to maintain relationships. Today, I am proud to join Chair Weprin to advocate for the passage of these two pieces of legislation, as I believe they embody the values of restorative justice and further our goals of criminal justice reform.”

“We should do more, not less to unite families. That is a core reason why we should not reduce visitation to see incarcerated individuals. I respect the process of criminal justice but, I also respect the difficult feelings that families must feel wanting to spend more time with their loved ones. As a member whose communities have the highest composition on Rikers Island and who has relatives who were previously incarcerated and turned their lives around, criminal justice reform is personal. Both houses of this Legislature agree on the efficacy of inmate visitation programs. It is shown unequivocally that, while having a low cost to tax payers, programs such as these yield incredibly productive results, such as reducing the rate of recidivism significantly. I proudly support this legislation and both our Corrections Committee Chairman David Weprin and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, for the outstanding work they have done in bringing this piece of policy forward. Together, we are here to help New Yorkers, not hurt them further” said Assemblymember Michael A. Blake.

“We need to break the cycle of broken families by supporting programs that help mend, build and maintain family relationships during incarceration,” said Karen Murtagh, Executive Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS). “The evidence is irrefutable that strengthening family ties during incarceration helps reduce recidivism and increases the well-being of the children. That is why PLS wholeheartedly supports Assemblyman Weprin’s bill A7241 to restore seven day visitation in medium security facilities and Assemblymember De La Rosa’s bill A7016 to restore transportation for visitors from certain cities to state correctional facilities.”