Senate Passes Measure to Strengthen Penalties for Helping Prisoners Escape or Commit Other Crimes

June 01, 2016

The New York State Senate today passed legislation to significantly increase penalties for those who conspire with  prisoners to commit a felony and/or later hinder the prosecution. The bill (S5947), sponsored by Senator Kathy Marchione (R-C-I, Halfmoon), would help prevent a repeat of the cooperation provided by prison employees to two Clinton Correctional Facility inmates who escaped approximately one year ago this week.

Senator Marchione, Chair of the Senate’s Local Government Committee, said, “Increasing the criminal penalty for conspiring to help an inmate escape prison is a necessary step to further dissuade anyone foolish enough to try and help a convicted criminal escape justice. My bipartisan legislation provides an additional tool for prosecutors -- and another disincentive for any individual who might try and help criminals escape.”

On June 6, 2015, David Sweat and Richard Matt - two convicted murders serving a life sentence and 25 years to life, respectively - received outside assistance in their escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility. As a result, more than 800 members of federal, state, and local law enforcement spent weeks actively engaged in an intense manhunt for the two escapees.

This bill would strengthen the penalties for anyone who commits conspiracy with a prisoner to escape or commit other felonies, as well as for hindering prosecution when/if an escape or other felony does take place. The charges would increase from misdemeanors up to Class B felonies depending on the type of conspiracy or hindering prosecution that takes place. 

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

Senators Involved