7 Worst Prisons in The New York State

What are some worst prisons in New York State? We have listed the seven worst prisons to be in New York State. Rikers Island is No.1 worst prison in NY.

Worst Prisons in the New York State: Listed
Worst Prisons in the New York State: Listed / Picture by the author

What are some of the worst prisons in the State of New York? Previously in our article, we discussed the 7 Worst Prisons in the State of Ohio. We will write more such articles but before we go into the details first, let's define some of the criteria we used to determine the worst prisons in New York or any other state.

The worst prisons in the New York State that we listed here are based on many metrics like;

  1. The inmates are being brought to the facility.
  2. The corruption and poor hygiene for the prisoners.
  3. The number of suicides committed by the inmates.
  4. And Many more metrics that could make the prison the worst place to live.

Listed: Worst prisons in the State of New York:

  • New York City Rikers Island Facilities
  • Great Meadow Correctional Facility
  • Greene County Jail
  • Erie County Holding Center/Correctional Facility
  • Dutchess County Jail
  • Onondaga County Justice Center/Penitentiary
  • Attica Correctional Facility - Attica, New York
  • Sing, Sing Prisons in The New York State
  • The List will be updated accordingly

The State of New York has one of the largest state prisons in the United States of America, consisting of a total of 52 active prisons. The New York Department of Corrections and Community (NYSDOCCS) is the authority that is responsible for the care, administration, and rehabilitation of all these prisoners located within the facilities.

To ensure NYSDOCCS effectively does its job, the total number of sworn employees is 23,300, and additional volunteers are called on duty depending on the circumstances.

Despite countless efforts of the NYSDOCCS, all prisons do not effectively do their job and are considered to be hotbeds of inhouse crimes and other disciplinary issues.

What makes New York State prisons worst?

The reason why some prisons in New York state are not as effective as they should be lies in a multitude of reasons. These range from poor hygiene and maintenance of the prisons, overcrowding, wardens not doing their jobs effectively, not being given effective correctional services, denied access to mandatory education programs, and fights.

Additionally, there are also racial tensions in the prisons of New York state. This is due to Black African Americans' higher incarceration rates, leading to higher racial and ethnic distribution. According to the 2018 US Census Categorization system, there are over 48% of Black African incarcerated prisoners in New York state as compared to only 25% of American and 25% Hispanic.

While NYSDOCCS is doing everything in its power to ensure the standards are improved, the trouble does not seem to be moving away.

1. New York City Rikers Island Facility:

The worst prison in New York state is, without denying, the Rikers Island prison. The prison was named after Abraham Rycken, the name of the person who took possession of the island in the Rikers facility. The prison was founded as a temporary detention facility in 1932 but quickly evolved into a fully functional corrections facility.

What makes the prison so worse is the mental health problems of the prisoners who are sent there. According to a report by the New York Times, over 40% of prisoners suffer from mental problems, making the situation even more difficult for authorities to manage. Just alone in 2021, there were 11 murders reported, with 5 prisoners committing suicide.

The situation is so worse in this prison that the New York Governor and New York City Mayor had to announce they are removing trans and female prisoners from the facility as this is the only way to safeguard them from trouble.

This prison is difficult to manage because the number of kept prisoners is estimated to be about 5,700 inmates chunked into a limited number of prison units.

2. Great Meadow Correctional Facility:

Number 2 on our list is the Great Meadow Correctional Facility. The prison is overcrowded and that overcrowding is the reason that makes things here worse for the inmates.

It is estimated that over 32,000 inmates are locked in, which are simply impossible to manage for any force, let alone the NYSDOCCS.

Having such a huge population in one facility has made it impossible for NYSDOCCS to provide adequate health, hygiene, and educational facilities. There is also news of prisoners being left to burn during the heatwaves since the availability of cooling facilities is minimal.

All of this has resulted in a huge amount of prisoners self-harming, as they believe that is the only way out of it. The rate of self-harm among prisoners is said to be the highest in any US state or federal prison, which is about 95 per every 1,000 inmates.

There are also reports of illegal use of force by authorities on prisoners, which some deem as a necessary evil to keep the prison under control.

3. Greene County Jail:

Greene County Jail is a maximum security prison and is often classified as a Supermax facility which is located in Franklin Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Most of the inmates here are those who got convicted in a capital case.

One of the reasons why this jail is the worst in New York State is because of its 113-year-old building, which is in dire need of a replacement. The sanitary conditions are unsafe and the staff is famous for not consistently following the commission rules. In fact, at times, prisoners call the staff to be absent whenever they complain about improving the conditions of the prison.

Since the prison is a supermax facility, prisoners are kept in small cells and are oftentimes deprived of sunlight. Their second-to-second movement is monitored and restricted to get access to education and other correctional facilities.

There is a chance that the prison might be decommissioned soon since there is no other way to save it.

4. Erie County Holding Center & Correctional Facility:

Another worst prison on our list is the Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility, which can hold over 680 inmates. Most of the inmates are those who are going through a trial. The prison is located in Buffalo, New York, and was opened in 1938.

According to a 2017 commission report, the prison is ranked among the worst in New York due to delays in the inmate grievance process, visitation policies, poor sanitation, and excessive use of force by authorities on the inmates to maintain discipline.

5. Dutchess County Jail:

The 5th worst prison in the state of New York on our list is the Dutchess County Jail. The jail is located on Hamilton Street, Poughkeepsie.

The prison is so bad due to overcrowding, which some prisoners say gets suffocating at times and results in the lack of access to food, basic facilities, and programs. There are not enough beds for all prisoners, and some, as a result, have to sleep on the floor; additionally, there were two suicides within the prison that were not made public.

The New York State Commission of Correction developed the report and called for urgent action to improve the jail’s conditions.

6. Onondaga County Justice Center:

Onondaga County Justice Center has been named as one of the most “problematic jails” in New York and there is a reason for it. Investigations have revealed that the facilities for inmates are inadequate to such a scale that they pose a serious health risk for them and even the guards. In addition, the report says there is an excessive inhumane treatment of inmates, which simply violates their constitutional rights.

Unless Onondaga County Justice Center looks into the problems of overcrowding and improving the facilities for inmates, it will remain one of the worst prisons in the state of New York.

7. Attica Correctional Facility:

The last one on our list is the Attica Correctional Facility which is located at Exchange Street Attica, New York. The prison has a maximum security prison status with a capacity of 2,253.

After the riots in 1971, in which 1200 inmates participated and riots cost the lives of at least 43 people, things have remained calm but the fear is always ongoing.

The prison has remained somewhat better at maintaining law and order, given that most of the inmates are those who have been sent here due to disciplinary issues. This prison stands out because it has installed a CS Gas system in the main mess hall to repel any conflicts that arise.

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