New York State has taken away prisoners' ability to receive packages sent directly from their family members and loved ones. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision implemented the pilot program on July 18, 2022. The DOCCS claims that it is prohibiting packages in an effort to prevent prisoners from receiving contraband,
In a continuous battle to prevent contraband from getting into DOCCS’ correctional facilities and maintaining security and safety for both staff and the incarcerated population, the Department is revising its policy concerning packages and articles received through facility package rooms.
Prisoners Can Only Get Packages Directly From Vendors
DOCCS says the program is a pilot. The program is being implemented in the Wende Hub, which includes Albion, Attica, Collins, Groveland, Lakeview, Orleans, Wende and Wyoming Correctional Facilities.
Upon complete implementation, packages and articles will only be allowed to be received directly from vendors via U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, etc. Packages will no longer be allowed to be brought to the facility during visits or mailed directly to the facility from family or friends. Department Directive #4911 – Packages & Articles Sent to Facilities – is in the process of being updated.
Is The Program Being Used To Punish Prisoners And Their Families?
The Gotham Gazette published an opinion piece stating that it believes this policy will not actually help make prisons safer, but it used to punish prisoners and their families.
It is our shared belief that Directive #4911A will not stop the smuggling of contraband and will instead impose unnecessary financial burdens on the families of the incarcerated and result in hazardous disruptions to the incarcerated population. The Correctional Association of New York (CANY), an independent state-authorized oversight body, has informed us that multiple FOIL requests for data regarding facility violence have been delayed. This lack of transparency leads us to the concerning suspicion that DOCCS is using the package policy punitively against the incarcerated population and their loved ones.
DOCCS says the recommendation received input from the Prison Violence Task Force, Incarcerated Individual Liaison Committees, and advocacy organizations.
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"The number of unusual incidents has increased 132% from 5,980 in 2011 to 13,870 in 2020. These higher incident numbers were largely due to increases in assaults on incarcerated individuals (+81%), assaults on staff (+86%), contraband (+130%), disruptive behavior (+372%), and staff use of weapons (+1,035%)."In 2020, 1,836 weapons used to cut or stab, including ice picks, razor blades, can lids and shanks were discovered in state prisons around New York.
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