New York State Sen. Betty Little doesn’t like the fact that some inmates in state prisons have small flat-screen TVs in their cells, says the Albany Times Union. It”s not because the televisions are a sign of convict-coddling, said Little, a conservative Republican. Rather, too much TV time is a symptom of not having enough guards or other staffed programs for the inmates. “I think you’re getting away from the mission in order to save money,” said Little, who suggests inmates are being “warehoused.”
There’s likely to be a broader debate this year over downsizing the state’s vast system of prisons and juvenile centers. The issue was highlighted during last week’s State of the State address, in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was time to stop sending youthful offenders as well as adult convicted criminals from New York City to youth centers and prisons upstate that may be hundreds of miles from their homes. In saying he wanted to right-size the state’s vast system of juvenile and adult prisons — many of which are in rural upstate regions — Cuomo was aligning himself with members of the state’s progressive wing who have long complained about New York’s so-called “prison-industrial” system. Lawmakers from New York City have for years complained about the difficulties faced by friends and family of inmates who must travel hundred of miles for a visit. Many upstate Republicans like Little serve district that include numerous prisons, and guards who are constituents. They will likely push back against efforts to close prisons or juvenile centers in their districts.