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Letter: Prison conditions worse than we know

A jail cell.

A jail cell. Credit: iStock

In the mid 1990s, I worked for then-Assemb. Dan Feldman (D-Brooklyn), who was chairman of the corrections committee ["Upstate breakout reveals deeper flaws at prisons," Editorial, Aug. 31].

I was only 20 when I visited my first state prison, and it had such a lasting effect on me, I don't think I've ever been the same. I simply couldn't believe that people were living in these conditions, and this was happening in the United States.

The corrections system -- a laughable euphemism as opposed to the more appropriate penal system -- is always a hot-button political issue. There is obviously little sympathy for the conditions that felons live in, and earmarking money in the state budget for their welfare usually garners little support.

Since most states, including New York, build prisons away from populated areas, a lot of these poor conditions are out of sight, out of mind, and society forgets about them.

We must remember that most people in New York prisons are not evil monsters. They are humans who often made a mistake in life. As a civilized society, we can't just bury our heads in the sand over the way they are forced to live. Incarcerating a citizen and taking away his or her freedom is an enormous punishment in itself.

Michael Prete, Garden City