Some, including Darlene McDay, say officers goad incarcerated men into fights and then use this as an excuse to physically and mentally punish them.
Others, such as acting State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Commissioner Anthony Annucci warned the state in a memo that his department will hold the incarcerated population fully accountable for assaulting staffers, visitors or each other.
First case in point: McDay’s 22-year-old son, Dante Taylor, who died after he was beaten by several correction staffers in Wende Correctional Facility in Erie County in October 2017.
Second case in point: Adrea Adamczyk, a five-year officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, who had to have 70 stitches in her head — 20 internal and 50 external — and suffered a ruptured eardrum, concussion and broken nose that required reconstructive surgery after a 32-year-old incarcerated man repeatedly punched and kicked her in the face Nov. 18.
The blame game is heating up, so let’s look at the facts.
First, DOCCS reports 1,022 assaults on staff and 966 assaults on the incarcerated as of the week ending Nov. 21 — on pace to meet or surpass 1,047 attacks on staff in 2020, an all-time high. Violent attacks between incarcerated people are also on the rise, with 1,204 reported incidents in 2020.
Second, a historic number of violent incidents have occurred between incarcerated New Yorkers and officers in 2020 and 2021, despite an all-time low incarcerated population since 1984.
After reading these statistics, from which one can conclude that officers and the incarcerated are almost equally subjected to violent attacks, it’s a moment to consider why New York state prisons, including two in Greene County, have become pressure cookers though the incarcerated population is at a historic low and the notorious practice of double bunking has been banned.
Could an underlying cause be the tensions of confinement in the Age of COVID? Could it be simply the emotions of anger and outrage building up and exploding?
We offer this modest proposal: Let activists such as McDay and officials such as Adducci work together to find a solution.