Legal Aid Chief Defender Says Cuomo's Visitation Reduction Plan Is Bad Policy
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2017

Governor Cuomo’s proposal to slash the opportunities for families to visit loved ones in New York State prisons is bad criminal justice policy and bad family policy," Tina Luongo, Legal Aid's Chief Defender, told POLITICO in an exclusive interview. It is well established that prisoners who maintain supportive relationships with family have better outcomes when they return to the community upon release, and family ties reduce recidivism. Families of color are disproportionately separated by incarceration, and the Governor’s proposal to halve the number of visiting days adds a wholly unnecessary burden on family life. New York State policy should reflect the clear evidence that visiting programs are wise correctional policy, and the common-sense experience of every parent that letters and videos are no substitute for face-to-face family connection.”




Politico
Cuomo's visitation reduction plan 'bad policy,' legal service provider says
By Colby Hamilton
January 25, 2017

Buried in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal released last week is a plan to reduce from seven to three the number of visitation days for inmates in the state's maximum-security prisons. The plan, first reported by the Daily News, would “align more closely with medium-security correctional facilities," according to budget documents, and save the state $2.6 million through the eliminating 39 positions.

The state's largest provider of indigent legal services called the plan not only bad policy on the criminal justice front, but for families of the incarcerated.

“It is well established that prisoners who maintain supportive relationships with family have better outcomes when they return to the community upon release, and family ties reduce recidivism,” the Legal Aid Society’s Tina Luongo said. “Families of color are disproportionately separated by incarceration, and the Governor’s proposal to halve the number of visiting days adds a wholly unnecessary burden on family life.”

She said many of these clients live great distances from family members in prison. Limiting the number of visitation days to three would place an undue burden on those trying to plan travel, Luongo said.

The policies changes would affect nearly 22,000 inmates in maximum facilities, according to numbers provided by Legal Aid that reflected population totals as of Jan. 1. Slightly more inmates, 25,259, were located in medium-security as of that same date, according to the organization.

A state budget spokesman told the Daily News the changes were in part due to newly expanded use of video conferencing, providing “a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars and match the preexisting policy at medium security DOCCS facilities.”

On Wednesday, Luongo rejected the argument.

“New York State policy should reflect the clear evidence that visiting programs are wise correctional policy, and the common-sense experience of every parent that letters and videos are no substitute for face-to-face family connection,” she said.