Senator Fred Akshar released an online petition opposing the “Prison Minimum Wage Act,” which would increase the taxpayer-funded wage paid to prison inmates to a minimum of $3.00 per hour.
Introduced by Senator Zellnor Myrie (D - Brooklyn) last week, the legislation (S.3138) is currently in the Senate's Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. The sponsor lists no estimates on how much the increase would cost taxpayers.
“New York needs to get its priorities straight,” said Akshar. “We're currently facing a $5 billion total state budget deficit, should we really be considering a 400% raise to the taxpayer funded minimum wage for prisoners?”
Akshar is urging New York residents across the state who are opposed to the measure to sign the online petition at Akshar.NYSenate.Gov.
Currently, inmates in New York earn between 10 cents and $1.14 an hour ($0.62 average) for tasks such as cleaning, maintenance and manufacturing products. According to publicly released data, New York spends $9 million annually on prison inmate wages. A flat $3.00 wage increase could add an as much as $100 million to the annual cost.
All prisons in New York are publicly owned and operated by law, with no private entity owning or operating any facility where inmates are incarcerated.
“Before we think about giving raises to prisoners, we need to fulfill our obligation to law-abiding citizens, like Direct Service Professionals who take care of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities,” said Akshar. “Last year Governor Cuomo promised a cost of living adjustment increase be included in each State Budget starting in 2018, but has since left it out of his 2020 budget proposal. We need to pay what we owe to law abiding citizens before raising wages for convicted felons.”