Among a few other states in the United States of America, the State of New York is among those that are closing prisons largely due to the reasons being there are not as many criminals as there were in the past. The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision or SDOCCS is the governing body that oversees and manages the entire prison department and infrastructure of the State of New York.
Back in 1797 when New York’s first-ever prison was constructed, the prison department did not have a very “professional” mark rather they were considered to be brutal to the inmates where no proper rehabilitation programs were introduced and episodes of torture done by wardens were common.
Since then, a lot has changed and it appears with the professional the institute of SDOCCS has shown, the State of New York might have to close a few more prisons.
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision: New York State’s prison department
Ever since its restructuring in 1971, SDOCCS has become a more professional force that has a dedicated line of professional police officers serving their duties. Altogether, there are 31,400 SDOCCS sworn members designated for different duties in 52 operational prisons that are funded by the State of New York. Furthermore, SDOCCS employs over 28,000 individuals including 18,200 uniformed well-professional officers based on correctional duties.
In 1999, there were 73,000 incarcerated individuals in the State of New York and SDOCCS had to deploy all of its resources to ensure prison standards are met and the incidents of prison escape are controlled.
Characteristics of New York State Prisons:
After the 1971 incident at Attica Prison riot 1971, the State of New York and the help of SDOCCS had to re-introduce measures to ensure future confrontation and tensions are reduced to their utmost. This is why the State of New York employed a renowned architect John Hopkins who helped to design three correctional facilities and also helped to bring about standards that future architects have to rely upon when designing prisons.
Prisons in the State of New York have libraries that are supervised by a professional librarian, prisoners are given the liberty to use telephonic services provided which are obviously monitored for security reasons. Each prisoner is given an advisor and a staff member whose job is to assist in navigating complex institutional and external programs.
By design and operational protocols of SDOCCS, inmates are frequently moved from prison to prison this is due to avoid them from being able to develop friendships with staff members which could potentially lead to drug smuggling or sexual favours.
Prisons also have an imam, a rabbi, and a chaplain, who are tasked to visit several prisons on different days of the week. There is a proper check and balance to see if the food standards are being met or not. The State of New York with the full checks and balances by SDOCCS allows a few selected inmates to have conjugal visits.
New York reinstated the death penalty after a ruling was signed by Governor George Pataki in 1995 and selected prisons use lethal injection for the execution. Before this, Clinton Correctional Facility had the male death row facility and Bedford Hills Correctional Facility had the female death row facility. Green Haven Correctional Facility and Sing Sing Correctional Facility both also had death row facilities.
List of prisons that are closing in the State of New York:
With the help of several counts, one thing is clear over 8,000 prison beds are empty in the State of New York, and due to this, the State has decided to shut down prisons. Interestingly, almost 50% of these beds are within prisons located in New York City.
The following is the list of prisons that SDOCCS has decided to close down from the 10th of March 2022 onwards:
1. Ogdensburg Correctional Facility:
This was a level 1 to level 3 security state prison for male inmates. It was opened in 1982 and for a time also served as a State Asylum facility and Federal Immigration Detention Facility for immigration court matters that were heard in Ulster County, New York.
2. Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility:
With a capacity of over 300 prisoners, the Shock Incarceration facilities operate as a boot-camp program implementing a strict regimen of intensive incarceration, giving the inmates a shock so that they can make major life changes by altering their past behaviour. The program is designed for short-term inmates who cannot complete their vocational training as it requires more time than they have to serve in jail.
However, SDOCCS did introduce some literacy programs allowing inmates to read and learn better as a form of substance abuse treatment services.
3. Willard Drug Treatment Campus:
Willard Drug Treatment is a specialized state prison located in Seneca County, New York. The main focus of this 900-bed prison is that it focuses primarily on the treatment of drug addicts.
SDOCCS runs a rehabilitation program that includes a 97-day treatment syllabus for drug addicts during which they are introduced to group therapy, a boot camp-style day routine, focus on their skills, and much more. The facility was opened in 1995 and has been considered integral to ensuring the State of New York is drug-free.
4. Southport Correctional Facility:
Opened in 1988, the Southport Correctional Facility is an ultra maximum level 5 ultra-security which was operated by SDOCCS. Southport Correctional Facility served as a prison for those inmates in different prisons of New York State who committed serious disciplinary infractions and as a punishment.
In almost very rare cases, prisoners are directly sent to the facility and sometimes this was done to ensure that prisoner is not killed by other inmates. Joel Steinberg, a notorious child killer is one such example as SDOCCS thought it would be best for him to directly serve in Southport Correctional Facility.
5. Downstate Correctional Facility:
Downstate Correctional Facility was initially a maximum-security prison opened in 1979, however, it later became New York State’s introductory to prison system facility where new inmates were to serve for them to develop a feeling of what prison is going to be. It also served as a waiting period for many inmates before they are assigned to a more permanent prison.
6. Rochester Correctional Facility:
The purpose of the Rochester Correctional Facility is to allow male inmates who are about to complete their sentence and are about to be released out into the public.
The minimum security prison is more relaxed and has several rehabilitation and skill-building programs that the inmates can enrol in which later helps them to find jobs in the professional world.
Criticism of the State of New York closing prisons:
While overall the State of New York is lauded for its decrease in crime rate, and the professionalism showed by SDOCCS to ensure inmates get the rehabilitation they deserve so that their sentences can be minimized and they can once go back to society. Due to this, the State of New York does not require more prisons and decided to shut down 6 prisons.
Due to this, there have been concerns raised over where SDOCCS employee who was serving in the prison go and if it is actually about reducing the crime rate or saving cost since the closing of these facilities has resulted in over 1,000 inmates being relocated to different other prisons who already are operating at full capacity.
You can read more articles about Prisons:
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- Byrd Unit Texas: Everything You Need To Know About This Facility
- List of Maximum security prisons in the New York State
- Segovia Unit Brief Overview Visiting Hours, Inmate Phones, And Location
- 7 Worst Prisons In the State of Ohio
- Minimum, Medium, and Maximum Security Levels in Prisons of Illinois
- Minimum, Medium, and Maximum Level Prisons In Pennsylvania