bill sponsored by area state Sen. Michael Nozzolio calling for the elimination of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Family Reunion Program passed the New York State Senate Thursday.
The bill, S3747, is a one-house bill with no sponsor in the Assembly. According to a news release, the bill would save New York $4 million annually.
Nozzolio blasted what he called the “conjugal visit program” in a news release after the bill’s passage Thursday.
“The conjugal visit program is a blatant waste of taxpayer dollars at a time when the people of New York can least afford it and I am glad that my Senate colleagues have recognized that there is surely a greater need for this funding elsewhere during this difficult budget year,” Nozzolio said in a statement. “During these difficult economic times, we must critically examine every taxpayer dollar that New York State spends in order to find areas for potential savings. Conjugal visits are a costly and unnecessary prisoner luxury that we cannot afford to continue.”
Nozzolio introduced the bill earlier this session. In an interview with me last month, he made a fiscal argument against the program.
“This expenditure, at this time, is inappropriate,” he said. “It costs too much and is a program not worthy of taxpayer support.”
Last month, a spokesman for DOCCS explained the Family Reunion Program and who qualifies.
DOCCS spokesman Peter Cutler said the program operates at 16 correctional facilities, including Auburn. Most of the facilities where the program is hosted are maximum security.
Cutler also explained some of the benefits of the program. He said it was one tool to help with post-release reintegration as they prepare to reunite with their families.
“Ideally, the ultimate goal is to help reduce recidivism,” Cutler said in an interview.