NYC Corrections Union Hits New Chief For Opposing Punitive Segregation


The head of New York City's largest correction officers' union criticized the policies of new Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte, even though Ponte won't start his job until Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports. Supported correction officials from New Jersey and Westchester County, N.Y., Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, criticized Ponte for being a non-New Yorker with no experience in the city's jail system whose planned policy changes will endanger correction officers. “He wants to eliminate punitive segregation completely,” Seabrook said, referring to the practice of confining inmates who break jail rules in cells for 20 hours or more a day. “He wants no punitive segregation. That is his claim to fame in Maine. No punitive segregation.”

Seabrook said although it has been much maligned by civil rights and prisoner advocate groups, “punitive segregation is an effective tool that works.” He added: “This is not a bread and water thing. … The inmates gets everything he or she is supposed to have. The only thing they don't get to do any more is to [attack] correction officers.” Ponte said he looked forward to speaking with Seabrook. Mayor Bill de Blasio said when appointing Ponte, “If we're truly trying to make people better, long-term segregation is not the answer.”

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