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Pushing for Corrective Justice: A NYS Bill to Protect the Rights of Incarcerated Individuals

The Erie County Holding Center.
Matthew Karovski
The Erie County Holding Center.

New York Assembly bill A8364, a bill focused on the protection of the rights of incarcerated individuals, was introduced to the NYS Committee on Corrections in January 2023. It remains in the Senate Committee.

In short, the bill obliges NYS correctional facilities to provide necessities as well as resources to ensure incarcerated individuals are treated humanely and are rehabilitated. The bill is in line with a greater call for rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals.

All individuals should be treated with respect, including those who violated the social contract. While this may go against the moral intuition of punishment for crimes, people deserve to be treated as humans.

First, the bill indicates that some NYS correctional facilities violated the HALT Act , which, most notably, banned the use of solitary confinement for youth and other vulnerable populations and to encourage alternative options to the psychologically damaging practice of solitary confinement. The bill also indicates that, “…the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has consistently placed people with disabilities in segregated confinement.”

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Also, the bill will protect the incarcerated individual’s right to communicate with and visit loved ones. Not to mention, the bill will require healthy food and recreation and programming to be given to incarcerated individuals. The goal of the provisions is to reduce suffering of human beings, prepare incarcerated individuals to be released, and to increase safety.

With this bill, incarcerated individuals, “shall have access to an internet-connected or similarly equipped tablet or other device that allows for free personal phone calls and free emails, as well as access to law library resources, programming, music, games, videos, movies, and other applications.”

On a final note, the bill will prevent correctional employees from using excessive force toward an incarcerated individual.

Incarcerated individuals should be afforded an opportunity to be rehabilitated and to develop the skills necessary to thrive in society. Providing nutrition, resources, and human connection are necessary to ensure a successful rehabilitation of the individual. The provisions support the transition to the outside world and improve behavior, resulting in a safer environment for everyone involved.

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Matthew Karovski, Staff writer

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  • K

    KAREN CROWLEYFeb 28, 2024 at 6:13 pm

    Regarding: Pushing for Corrective Justice: A NYS Bill to Protect the Rights of Incarcerated Individuals -Matthew Karovski, Writer February 19, 2024
    I wrote a rather lengthy comment about the above story. However, not surprisingly, it was not published. I don’t know why Matthew thinks he knows about what happens in prison but I can tell you, I worked in DOCCS for 30+ years and I do know what goes on. While there are always a few “bad eggs” in any group, the overwhelming majority of corrections staff are professional and good at what they do. Many incarcerated individuals, or inmates, do choose to participate in the many programs and trainings that offered to every inmate to help them return to society and become productive members. It is irresponsible to not share the truth in news articles/stories. Very one sided reporting.

    Reply
  • K

    Karen CrowleyFeb 25, 2024 at 11:44 pm

    When will the insanity stop! The “incarcerated individuals” have committed crimes. These crimes have destroyed lives and communities. They have been given many opportunities to rehabilitate themselves. However, as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. In my 30+ years working in corrections, I knew many inmates who worked hard to change their lives and become better humans. They became hospice aides and took care of fellow inmates who were at the end of life. The care and compassion they showed to fellow human beings was amazing. I saw many who learned sign language and became interpreters for their fellow inmates who were deaf. I saw inmates who didn’t want to go to school but did and when they graduated with their GED, they were proud and had a sense of accomplishment. It would be the beginning many times of the change they wanted to make. Unfortunately, there were many inmates who wanted nothing to do with rehabilitation and had no desire to change their lives. They mistreated other I mates, as well as staff.
    They all were fed three meals a day (not saying the food was always fantasti, but it was nutritionally good.) They received better medical care than many people in the community who had not committed a crime and worked hard their whole life or fought for our country in wars. They received dental care when needed. They had a roof over their heads and were provided clothing, laundry services, vocational training, education, recreation, etc. They should not be treated better than the people in the community. They are not there to be punished but as punishment for not following the law. Prison should not be a place where the offenders are treated like royalty. They should not want to be there, they shouldn’t like it. They should want to learn from their mistakes and strive to better themselves so they can be successful. Successful, so they can be productive members of society and be better fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc.

    Reply
  • F

    Fred kucikFeb 20, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    When you give the inmates more rights than the guards they will be running the jail not the guards. If there no consequences for bad behavior in jail then there will always be turmoil by the inmates. The leadership of this system should learn to have some common sense

    Reply
  • P

    Phil KogutFeb 20, 2024 at 4:57 pm

    The individuals who composed this bill, need to walk in the shoes of the men and women, in uniform, who work inside these Correctional Facilities, for about 6 months. I worked as a Correctional Officer, in a class “A” Maximum Facility for 20 years, then 9 more years as a Sergeant. What the “powers that be”, don’t realize, is that the majority of inmates feel that doing “time “ is like a badge of honor! And the the vast majority of inmates don’t want to be forced into programs and will not participate in these programs! “You can lead a horse to water but you CAN’T make him drink!” It’s another waste of tax payer $$$ ! The sad reality is that people in power think that they have all that answers. But truth be told, they are clueless to many things.

    Reply