Three guards from New York State’s Attica prison are set to go on trial this week for beating inmate George Williams in 2011, reports The Marshall Project for the New York Times. There were 563 inmate assaults on prison employees recorded in the state prison system that year, mostly in maximum security facilities. The prison population is down 25 percent to 53,000 from a peak of 71,600 in the 1990s. The decline has allowed Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cut the number of prisons to 54 from 67. There are no plans to eliminate maximum security prisons, which house 44 percent of inmates, said acting corrections chief Anthony Annucci. Closings are opposed by the state’s Correction Officers Police Benevolent Association, which represents the 20,000 corrections officers.
Recent closings, the union says, have led to inmate overcrowding and understaffing of guards, making their jobs far more dangerous. The union points to the recent rise in inmate assaults on staff, which reached 747 last year. In October, union leaders rallied outside Attica, where 85 cells meant to hold a single inmate are double-bunked. “Our officers have been stabbed and suffered compound fractures by inmates,” said Michael Powers, the current union president. “The state can't continue to downplay the situation.” The other uptick in prison violence is in the use of force by officers. The number of recorded incidents rose 25 percent between 2009 and 2013, most in maximum security facilities.