Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R,C,I-Watertown) is proud to have been a part of a bipartisan effort to end the much-maligned prison safety concern known as double-bunking. The practice had come into use in recent years following the Cuomo administration’s effort to close prisons. However, it negatively impacted the safety of inmates as well as correctional officers, leading advocates such as the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) to call for an end to the practice.
“It's common-sense and long overdue,” said Walczyk, who was a cosponsor of the bill to end the practice of double-bunking (A.702). “I am proud of the bipartisan coalition who came together to resolve this, by standing up for safety for our correctional officers, staff, teachers and inmates. Our prison system needs to be efficient and safe; these are the types of proposals the Governor should welcome from the legislature."
Though double-bunking has been in use since the late 1980s, it has come under fire more recently because of the widespread prison closures across the state. Its original purpose decades ago was to mitigate an expanding prison population that could not keep up with the construction of new prisons. Today, the policy is being used for the exact opposite purpose.
This practice is especially challenging for security concerns because the policy applies to medium security facilities, which contain the largest amount of inmates, making it harder to contain disturbances in the event they occur. According to NYSCOPBA, the number of inmate assaults on correctional officers has increased by 100 percent since 2012.
Having passed in both houses, the legislation now awaits consideration by the governor before becoming law. If signed into law, it will take effect 19 days later.