Cuomo still has not fixed state prisons
In 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commanded an investigation of racial bias in New York state prisons after reading a report released by The New York Times that he found “disturbing.” It has been two years since he made his promise and nothing has been done.
The New York Times’ report released disclosures that black and Latino prisoners were held in solitary confinement more frequently and for a longer time than white prisoners.
According to CBS New York, Cuomo “directed the state inspector general to look into allegations and recommend immediate changes if necessary.” There are no new releases on any findings or recommended changes from the office of the inspector general.
Along with ordering the investigation, Cuomo also arranged a plan to add more minority candidates on the parole board to make it reflective of all races. In 2016, the board consisted of 13 members, three of whom were African-American and one who was Latina. Now, there are five African-Americans and one Latina.
Investigations done by The Times show a staggering racial disparity at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, where black inmates are held for a longer duration in isolation than white inmates.
On average, black inmates were held for 125 days and white inmates for 90 days. Additionally, black inmates aren’t given parole at the same rate as their white peers.
According to The Times, “One in four white men were released at their first parole hearing; fewer than one in six black or Hispanic men were released after their first hearing.”
Investigating racial bias in the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is a challenge for two different reasons. One, there are few people staffed at the state inspector’s office. Two, this issue is not something that can be fixed in one day.
“It’s going to take a culture change from the top down and it’s going to take years to address,” Executive Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York Karen L. Murtagh told The Times.
With the mentality that Murtagh has, nothing will be done. Saying that a problem is going to take decades to solve reduces the perceived importance of fixing the problem.
Murtagh might not be the only one with this mentality, considering that Cuomo has not been inclined to fulfill what he proposed two years ago.
A reaction from Cuomo was a positive sign in addressing this issue. Yet, words are cheap, and if nothing is going to be put into action, Cuomo has left many Americans with false hope.