Corrections officers in New York would be able to retire earlier under a measure proposed Tuesday by Republicans in the state Assembly.
The bill, backed by Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and Assemblyman Chris Tague, would create an optional 20-year retirement plan for state correction officers.
The proposal is being made as corrections officers and their labor union have increasingly pointed concerns over safety and violence in state prisons over the last several years.
“As their representative, it’s my responsibility to listen to the people in my district and one of the growing concerns I’ve heard is from correction officers," Byrnes said. "This field has become dangerous, and it’s largely a thankless job."
If approved, the existing retirement requirement for state corrections officers would decrease by five years. Lawmakers hope it would enable more officers to retire while also boosting recruitment.
New York over the last decade has sought to close many prisons across the state as the overall population of people in prison has declined in the last generation. State officials have pledged to find ways of renovating former prison facilities in New York in order to make them economically viable for the often rural, upstate communities where they were built.
"Our dedicated members of law enforcement risk their health, safety and lives each and every day watching our backs and protecting us," Palmesano said. "It is only fitting that we show them how much we appreciate them and have their backs.”