Corrections officers report prison assaults

MARCY — Two incidents this week highlighted the dangers faced by corrections officers on a daily basis, and left one officer with fractured bones in his hand, representatives of the New York State Correction Officers Police Benevolent Association reported.

The first incident occurred on Monday at Mid-State Correctional, when inmate Kemal Fletcher, who was in his cell at the time, threw urine into the face of a passing officer. Kemal is expected to be charged with assault, and the officer, who is now back on the job and not identified, is being treated with optical antibiotics.

The second incident occurred on Wednesday at Marcy Correctional Facility when inmate Ronald Burse lashed out at a sergeant and two officers who were escorting him. Burse, who was in restraints at the time of the assault, head-butted the sergeant in the face, authorities said. The sergeant, who was also not identified, was taken to the hospital for head injuries and fractured bones in his hand that resulted from attempts to restrain the inmate. Charges are also expected to be filed against Burse.

The two latest incidents follow the assault of four corrections officers at Marcy on July 3. That incident left one officer with a broken nose and concussion, and he will also require surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, torn meniscus and partially torn patella tendon in his knee.

Since 2009, the inmate population in New York’s state prisons has decreased by a little more than 8 percent. Despite the decrease in the inmate population, working in New York’s corrections system is less safe today than it was four years ago, union officials said. Since 2009, the state has closed eight prisons, four camps, five annexes and 12 farms, and 1,780 corrections officer and sergeant positions have been lost. In that same time, total incidents of inmate-on-inmate assaults have increased by 10.5 percent, while the ratio of incidents has increased by 17 percent. The ratio of inmate on staff assaults has increased by 7.6 percent, while escape incidents have quadrupled, and contraband incidents are up nearly 5 percent, NYSCOPBA authorities said.

Due to the current condition of the corrections system, many maximum security inmates are serving in medium security settings, where they are never "locked in." In these dorm room settings, there are no cells and the prisoners have nearly free reign. By comparison, in a modern maximum-security facility, inmates are locked in their cells for 8-10 hours per day.