- Dozens of protesters crowded in front of Governor Hochul’s office to ask her to allow inmates in state prisons to continue receiving parcels from their relatives without limits
Since the beginning of 2022, the 30,000 prisoners who are confined in more than 44 New York state jails managed by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) have been faced with major changes in package delivery protocols by their families.
And this Tuesday, after denouncing that the prohibitions and limits that the prisons have imposed so that inmates receive regular packages, dozens of relatives of inmates and community defenders, demonstrated in front of Governor Kathy Hochul’s office to demand that she reverse the changes. .
Puerto Rican Jeannie Colón, who has her husband, José Colón, incarcerated for 24 years in the Sing Sing prison, in upstate New York, declared herself very sad and upset with the change in policy that prohibits people from sending packages of food to incarcerated family members directly, and limits the number of personal packages that can be received to two per year.
The community leader called on Governor Hochul and the State Department of Corrections to remove the new protocols from the map, which were imposed, as she mentioned, under the excuse that the packages received by the inmates encouraged the smuggling of prohibited items. .
“That is a big lie, because the packages that we took to our loved ones always went through an exhaustive review. Contraband is entering in other ways that should be investigated, go to the root of the problem and not punish our families and prisoners,” said Colón.
“Sometimes they do not have toilet paper, they do not have soap, they need healthy and nutritious food, and by limiting the packages that we can deliver to them, their needs will increase, and everything will be more expensive for us with astronomical prices charged by few suppliers that are approved”, denounced the Hispanic.
“They are doing business with the dignity of our people and by the way they are ending moments that unite us, such as when I went to buy things for my husband, we always talked. That no longer exists and with the companies to send the packages everything is very expensive and it is not enough for me”.
Agirah Stanley, director of the Alliance of Families for Justice organization, who was imprisoned in New York prisons, described the ban on delivering packages to inmates as an unfair act that discriminates against those most in need.
“Packages for our people in prisons are an act of survival. It is unacceptable that these limits have been created and that is why we demand that Governor Hochul end these prohibitions today and say no to vendors,” the activist commented. “We are already with many loads and we cannot pay the costs charged by those companies. Many families don’t have credit cards to order online and others don’t even have internet. The Governor must understand that when we talk about prisons we are talking about families with the lowest incomes in the communities.”
The young woman also criticized the DOCCS for trying to justify the change in protocols and limits on package deliveries to internal traffic of non-permitted products.
“When you take something to the prisons, the packages and you are inspected from top to bottom. There are dogs even checking our private parts and now they are going to say that contraband is coming in with those packages. They have X-rays, use them. They have eyes, noses, hands and intelligence to check packages. They are just excuses and lies to say that smuggling comes in there,” added the former inmate.
Teresa Grady, a member of the Coalition of Families for the Release of Older Prisoners, shouted at the top of her lungs that the relatives of inmates are not going to allow a basic right to receive parcels to prisoners in New York to be limited.
“I come here to speak loud and clear: Governor, packages cannot be limited. You cannot come to deny the nutrition that the inmates deserve. My detained husband suffers and needs tomatoes, vegetables and healthy food that they do not receive in prisons, ”said the woman, who added that her pocket cannot withstand the new protocols.
“In addition, sending packages to our people with the new policies, through companies, means more money and will make things more difficult for the most needy people, like me, because I cannot pay for those shipments now, so we need them to restitute parcels, as before, now,” added Grady.
The rally in front of Governor Hochul’s office coincided with a series of similar protests taking place in other corners of New York State including Long Island, New York, Westchester, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo, where more than 100 families lobbied to the president to revoke the new package delivery protocols.
Verónica Finnerman, from the organization New Hour for Women and Children Long Island affirmed that the packages have a meaning of quality of life.
“I spent three years incarcerated hundreds of miles from my family. They couldn’t visit me. I depended on my care packages every month to survive. State food is hardly decent for human consumption. The commissioner is incredibly expensive and he does not have what we need, ”said the former prisoner, warning that the new regulations have a stronger impact on women.
“Women and pregnant people are disproportionately harmed by this ban. Now I am a mother and I cannot imagine being incarcerated and pregnant. The package ban does not affect the amount of contraband entering prisons,” the woman added. “We all know where the contraband comes from, and not from packages. We are all human beings, mothers and women who deserve basic human rights.”
Jerome Wright, co-director of the #HALTsolitary campaign stated that the denial of packages violates principles and rights.
“Why are we going down this road again? Packages are essential for physical, mental and emotional sustainability. Placing this additional burden on the family and friends of those incarcerated is unconscionable and criminal,” said the activist.
Anthony Bibbs of the Center for Community Alternatives foundation, who was at the Syracuse rally, said the packages are essential to surviving in prison.
“The packages complement the terrible, often inedible, food in prison. They make sure you have toiletries and can keep yourself clean. Without packages, you have to beg other people to meet your basic needs, which is hard to do in prison,” Bibbs said.
“As a result of these baseless bans, families will be forced to use price gouging vendors to send food to their loved ones. The availability of food is extremely limited and cannot be adapted to the nutritional, religious and cultural needs, ”said the Coalition of families, through a statement. “Fresh food can spoil during transit, denying incarcerated people access to healthy food.”
The protesters highlighted that in addition to the financial cost of the new protocols, there is an emotional burden and harm with the package ban, as well as the health damage to incarcerated people.
They also denounced that in 2017 former Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to implement similar prohibition actions, but had to stop them.
At the close of this edition, neither the Office of Governor Hochul nor the State Department of Corrections had issued a statement on the claims of the families of the inmates.
NY State Prisons by the Numbers
There are 44 state prisons in the state of New York
- 30,832 was the average prison population until last June
- 21.2 years is the average time detainees have been in prison
- 9,003 inmates are between 18 and 20 years old
- 4,215 inmates are between 21 and 24 years old
- 3,004 prisoners are between 25 and 29 years old
- 3,023 inmates are between 30 and 34 years old
- 2,534 prisoners are between 35 and 39 years old
- 1,081 inmates are between 40 and 44 years old
- 2,346 inmates are between 45 and 49 years old
- 1,746 prisoners are between 50 and 54 years old
- 1,660 inmates are between 55 and 59 years old
- 2,155 prisoners between 60 and 64 years old
- 65 inmates are 65 years and older
The new package delivery rules
- 2022 the new protocols for delivering packages to inmates came into force
- 2 is the limit of occasions per year that inmates can receive packages with clothing
- 35 pounds maximum is the allowed weight of each of these shipments
- $18 dollars, according to relatives, the intermediary companies charge for a bag of soaps
- 2017 in Governor Cuomo attempted to make similar changes
- Food packages can no longer be delivered directly but purchased through suppliers