New York inmates who sexually harass female correction officers could face harsher penalties

Tougher laws are needed in New York against prison and jail inmates who sexually harass or grope female correction officers, downstate union leaders said.

The heads of correction officers unions are “tired and fed up,” with the incidents and plan to meet with state legislators starting this week to push for new protections that could include a requirement than some inmates register as sex offenders, said the head of Westchester County Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

COBA President Neil Pellone said he wants to let officials know “the law does not stop at the walls of the jail,” and that the inmates should be subject to the same punishments they would be if they committed these crimes out on the streets.

“We are tired and fed up and in need of serious change when it comes to inmate sexual harassment of our female officers,” Pellone said in a statement to The Post.

“These courageous women who put on a uniform and perform their duties with the utmost diligence, and professionalism, did not sign up to be harassed sexually and verbally assaulted on a regular basis by an inmate population that very rarely pays any consequences for their behavior.”

Pellone and other downstate union leaders are pushing for changes that could mean inmates face criminal charges for their harassment they engage in behind bars — and other changes could mean someone who has multiple offenses is forced to register as a sex offender.

Councilwoman Adrienne Adams introduced a resolution that would raise forcible touching to a felony charge and aggravated sexual harassment of correction officers to a Class A misdemeanor. 
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Complaints from DOC officers seen by The Post include prisoners who expose themselves, proposition correction officers for sex, threaten rape and masturbate in view of them as they walk by.

In New York City, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams introduced a resolution on Dec. 9 asking the state Legislature to amend its penal code to raise forcible touching to a felony charge and aggravated sexual harassment of a correction officer — including verbal abuse and lewd gestures — to a Class A misdemeanor. 

There have been 31 cases of inmate sexual assaults since Jan 1. Of those, 22 were against DOC officers, 20 of whom were female and two male. One DOC captain was additionally assaulted, as were eight civilians. There have only been nine indictments from the Bronx District Attorney’s office so far from these incidents.

This past Thursday, a Riker’s inmate was indicted for harassment of a female DOC officer for an incident in May.

A 29-year-old Rikers inmate was recently indicted for harassment of a female Department of Corrections officer.
A 29-year-old Rikers inmate was recently indicted for harassment of a female Department of Corrections officer.
J.C. Rice

Christopher Galliego, 29, allegedly called the 53-year-old officer to his cell gate, where he exposed himself and ejaculated on her gloves and leg, according to a statement from the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.

A similar bill to the city’s is being drafted by State Assembly Chair of Committee on Corrections David Weprin and is expected to be introduced sometime in January.

Additional reporting by Mark Lungariello.