HALT Act repeal dies in committee, prison union worries about inmate violence
ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - A bill in the state Senate to repeal the HALT Act is voted down. HALT, standing for Humane Alternatives to Long Term Solitary, limits how long state prison inmates can be placed in special housing units. HALT isn’t popular with corrections officers.
With the majority voting against a bill to repeal the current HALT Act, the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee says it doesn’t mean lawmakers are turning a blind eye to the increase of violence in state prisons.
“We really appreciate that every member of this committee is committed to reducing violence in correctional facilities, which is a very serious problem,” said Julia Salazar, committee chair.
Several on the committee went on to say that HALT is intended to reduce violence and believe it is not being properly implemented at facilities.
“In the face of lack of proper implementation of HALT, I think it is an especially wrong approach to this,” said one committee member.
North country state Senator Dan Stec sponsored the bill to repeal HALT.
In a news release, Stec says since HALT was enacted, violence in correctional facilities, in and out of the rehabilitation units, has gone up. “It’s disturbing that despite the overwhelming amount of data showing how unsafe HALT has been, Senate Democrats refused to take my measure to repeal it,” he said.
The HALT Act limits how long violent prisoners can spend in segregated housing to 15 days. Before it was 90 or more.
The head of a prison workers union says since HALT was put in place, more of his members, the prison guards, are getting hurt by inmates.
“The assaults on staff completely unprovoked, beating down correction officers, beating down other inmates, slashing, the acts are just increasing, it’s troubling,” said Mike Powers, NYSCOPBA president.
Stec’s bill to get rid of HALT appears to be dead, not getting out of the committee. Stec says he will keep pushing to get safer conditions inside state prisons.
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