Assemblywoman Buttenschon: Resuming In-Person Visitation at Correctional Facilities Poses Too Big of a Risk

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica/Rome) announced that she sent a letter to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) Commissioner Anthony Annucci to express her concerns about restarting visitation at state correctional facilities.

“Over the last few months, we’ve seen how quickly COVID-19 can spread in our long-term care facilities and how these outbreaks can have deadly consequences,” Buttenschon said. “We need to take every precaution we can to avoid this type of suffering and loss from happening in our correctional facilities. That’s why I’m strongly urging the DOCCS to continue the suspension of in-person visits and find other ways to ensure families can stay in touch with their loved ones. While I understand the struggles this poses, we must remember that the threat of this virus is ongoing and the safety of staff and incarcerated individuals needs to remain our top priority.”

Despite taking numerous safety precautions and suspending in-person visitation, DOCCS facilities have had 2,000 staff members, incarcerated individuals and parolees test positive for COVID-19.[1] In the last month, both Fishkill and Green Haven Correctional Facilities have had over a dozen incarcerated individuals test positive for COVID-19, and testing at these facilities still remains fairly limited.[2]

Buttenschon’s letter urges the DOCCS to continue suspending visitation at correctional facilities and explore other plans to help families connect with their loved ones while still keeping staff, incarcerated individuals and others safe. The number of individuals living and working in these spaces presents unique challenges that could lead to an outbreak, which is why it’s crucial that the state does everything it can to prevent virus spread in these facilities, Buttenschon noted.