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As a 34-year veteran of the state's prison system and superintendent of Attica Correctional Facility, I am writing to urge readers to contact the Assembly Democratic majority in Albany to demand that they support Gov. Pataki's proposal to expand our prison system.

In 1995, the Assembly majority joined with Republicans in the Senate and the Assembly to enact Pataki's "truth in sentencing" law for repeat violent offenders. That law lengthens prison sentences for robbers, muggers, rapists and all other violent thugs.

It also denies them parole. It means they really have to serve the sentence imposed by the courts without getting out early.

Where do the Assembly Democrats think these new offenders are going to be housed if we don't build new prisons? The work Pataki began in 1995 to lock up repeat violent felons must be finished -- by building the prison cells to lock them up.

Already, these offenders are getting longer sentences. It increases tensions for prison employees and the potential risk to communities surrounding our prisons when we must double-cell nearly 2,000 maximum security inmates and 8,000 in medium security. We must build new cells to house these violent predators being sentenced to prison.

We must demand that lawmakers join together to pass the governor's expansion plan. We need it to protect the public and the 30,000 men and women who work alongside of me in the state's 69 prisons.

Walter R. Kelly Superintendent,
Attica Correctional Facility

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