Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo says the proposed labor pay raise for prisoners to three dollars an hour, while Albany is slating to cut funding for important services, is hard to imagine. Dinolfo says fully financing services like public safety, libraries, snow plowing, and road repairs, as well as AIM funding for towns and villages are on the line.
Dinolfo says, “These are critical services in the governor’s budget that are being eliminated, and on the other hand, it is now going to be introduced legislation that is going to increase the rate of pay for prisoners; there’s something about that is inherently unfair, and we should make sure that this doesn’t go forward.”
But as Heidi Levy with Emergency Support Providers points out, pay for prisoners is not what you might think. Money made is not all for candy, Cheetos and cigarettes while doing time. Inmates can actually fall into debt for services provided while incarcerated.
“Some of the money pays for their medical that they receive in prison. So that money is allocated for different things, it’s not just willy-nilly, they can spend it however they wish. If they get services in the jail, they have to pay for those services, it’s not just Medicaid that pays for it,” says Levy.
Reaction on the street was mixed.
Mike Yeneralo says the extra pay might be a good thing upon release adding, “they don’t have money when they get out, and they (could) go back to a life of crime.”
Giovanni Paige-Mota, who has a step dad in prison, says, “They go through a lot of stuff in there; I think they should raise it up a little bit.”
Tom Bickle says he’s retired, and no one is throwing him $3.00 an hour. He says, “I think they don’t need it.”
For Dinolfo, this is about Albany setting it’s financial priorities straight, and putting money back where it’s needed. She says, “It’s not right, it’s not fair, we’re asking that the state and the Governor restore the funding for towns and villages.”
You can read more on the prisoner minimum wage act here.