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New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
NYSDOCS Seal.png
Flag of New York.svg
Flag of the State of New York
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • New York State Board of Prisons
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionNew York, United States
General nature
HeadquartersAlbany, New York

Sworn members23,000
Agency executive
Official website

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS) is the department of the New York State government[1] responsible for the care, confinement, and rehabilitation of inmates.

It is responsible for the care, confinement, and rehabilitation of approximately 54,700 inmates at 54 correctional facilities funded by the State of New York,[2] and currently supervises 36,500 parolees at seven regional offices.[3] The department employs a staff of approximately 31,300 individuals, including approximately 23,000 uniformed correction officers, and is currently the 12th largest state prison system in the United States.[4] Its regulations are compiled in title 7 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.

In response to falling crime rates and prison populations in New York State, the Department has closed a number of facilities between 2009 and 2014.[5] On April 1, 2011, the New York State Department of Correctional Services and the New York State Division of Parole merged to form the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.[6][7]



The mission of NYSDOCCS is to provide for public protection by administering a network of correctional facilities that:

  • Retain inmates in safe custody until released by law;
  • Offer inmates an opportunity to improve their employment potential and their ability to function in a non-criminal fashion;
  • Offer staff a variety of opportunities for career enrichment and advancement; and,
  • Offer stable and humane "community" environments in which all participants, staff and inmates, can perform their required tasks with a sense of satisfaction.


Patch of the old New York State Department of Correctional Services

The New York State prison system had its beginnings in 1797 with a single prison called Newgate located in New York City. A second state prison opened 20 years later in Auburn in 1817, and in 1825 a group of Auburn prisoners made the voyage across the Erie Canal and down the Hudson River to begin building Sing Sing.

Historians have not described the prison system of New York State in the 19th century in a favorable light - with employment positions being awarded based on the spoils system, employees being characterized as largely corrupt, and the use of prisoners to gain favorable manufacturing contracts.[10]

The state commissioned architect Alfred Hopkins to design three major institutions built between 1933 and 1935: Wallkill Correctional Facility, Woodbourne Correctional Facility and Coxsackie Correctional Facility. All three were designed on progressive principles, reflected a concern for aesthetics and a sense of place, and had no surrounding walls or fences.[11] That has changed.

Between its founding and the year 1973, New York had operated only 18 prisons. After the new focus on prison administration brought by the Attica Prison riot in September 1971, and a new influx of prisoners created by the new stricter Rockefeller Drug Laws starting in 1973, the corrections system was forced to expand dramatically.[12] Corrections acquired a number of older state-owned properties from other agencies during the 1970s, some with expansive acreage and Edwardian structures, such as the Adirondack Correctional Facility in 1971 (originally the Ray Brook Sanatorium, founded in 1904) the Otisville Correctional Facility in 1976 (on the grounds of a former tuberculosis sanitarium founded in 1906), and the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in 1976 (with a varied history since its opening in 1913, operated from 1969 through 1976 as the Wilton State School by the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene).

The growth continued in another way through the 1980s. A huge prison construction initiative took the form of "cookie-cutter" facilities, fifteen different medium-security installations such as Washington Correctional Facility in 1985, built with the same blueprints,[13] the same dorms and messhalls, as Franklin, Mohawk, Bare Hill, etc. Many of the 15 opened in 1988. Two of these, Riverview and Cape Vincent, were initially funded and owned by New York City to shuttle city prisoners by air, as a way to address the city's jail overpopulation crisis.[14]

From its peak in 1999, at 72,649, the total state prison population had dropped to 52,237 by August 1, 2016, a decrease of 28 percent.[15] Rapidly decreasing numbers of inmates has meant many prisons closed, with the loss of jobs in mostly rural communities, and pressure to consolidate further.[16]

As of 2016, New York did not contract with private prisons, according to state law.[17]

Command Structure

From highest to lowest, the command structure is as follows:

Deputy Commissioner
Deputy Superintendent of Security
Correction Officer
Correction Officer Trainee


See main List of New York state prisons

Characteristics of New York State prisons

In part as a response to the Attica Prison riot of 1971, a number of measures were taken to avoid future confrontations and reduce tensions. All New York State correctional facilities have monthly meetings between elected prisoner representatives and the prison administration, at which prisoners may present their concerns. A grievance process was instituted, by which prisoners may grieve any employee whom they feel is acting in violation of regulations. Packages may be received year-round.

At some medium-security prisons, facilities for conjugal visits are available for carefully selected inmates, including same-sex married couples. New York State is one of only four states with conjugal visits in 2014.

New York State does not have any privately-run prisons, and it runs its own health service to treat prisoners.

New York State has also been the national leader in reducing prison population and closing prisons. The reduction is both due to lower crime rates and to diversion of offenders into alternative programs.

Training of correction officers

Newly appointed Correction Officer Trainees will be required to participate in, and satisfactorily complete, all requirements of a 12-month training program before they can advance to Correction Officer. As part of the program, recruits will attend the Correctional Services Training Academy for a minimum of eight weeks of formal training. Paid training at the Academy will include academic courses in such areas as emergency response procedures, interpersonal communications, firearms, unarmed defensive tactics, legal rights and responsibilities, security procedures, and concepts and issues in corrections. Recruits will also receive rigorous physical training to develop fitness, strength and stamina. To physically qualify, it is necessary to perform seven sequential job related tasks in two minutes and fifteen seconds or less. Failure in any of the tasks will result in the recruit failing to meet the agency qualification standards and, accordingly, being dismissed from the Academy. The test is administered during the first and seventh week of the training program at the Academy. A thorough explanation and demonstration of the course, and an opportunity for a trial run, will precede the final test.[18]


In labor negotiations, the officers are represented by the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA).[19]

Legal power and authority of correction officers

New York State correction officers have peace officer status under Criminal Procedure Law § 2.10. This authorizes them:

  • The power to make warrantless arrests in correctional facilities pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law § 140.25.
  • The power to use physical force and deadly physical force in making an arrest or preventing an escape in correctional facilities pursuant to Penal Law § 35.30.
  • The power to carry out warrantless searches in correctional facilities whenever such searches are constitutionally permissible and acting pursuant to their duties.[citation needed]
  • The power to possess and take custody of firearms not owned by the peace officer, for the purpose of disposing, guarding, or any other lawful purpose, in correctional facilities with his duties as a peace officer, pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law § 2.20.

Death row

Prior to the 2008 repeal of the death penalty, the male death row was at the Clinton Correctional Facility and the female death row was at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.[20] On October 23, 2007, the New York Court of Appeals ruled in the case People v. John Taylor that the last death sentence must be dismissed based on a previous ruling in the case People v. LaValle.[21]

The last location for the execution chamber was at Green Haven Correctional Facility.[22] The death chamber at Green Haven had never hosted an execution.[23] Previously inmates were executed at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility.[24]

Fallen officers

32 New York state corrections officers have died in the line of duty.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Correction Law § 5(1). "There shall be in the state government a department of corrections and community supervision. The head of the department shall be the commissioner of corrections and community supervision[...]"
  2. ^ [], [] retrieved 2014-08-14
  3. ^ "NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision".
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [], [], [], retrieved 2014-10-08
  6. ^ Merger of Department of Correctional Services and Division of Parole, [], retrieved 2014-08-18
  7. ^ (PDF) []. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision".
  9. ^ New York Legislative Manual (118 ed.). Albany: The Secretary of State of New York. 1944. p. 630.
  10. ^ Timothy J. Gilfoyle (2006). A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York. W. W. Norton Company. ISBN 978-0393329896.
  11. ^ Joseph F., Spillane (9 May 2014). Coxsackie: The Life and Death of Prison Reform. JHU Press. p. 48. ISBN 9781421413228. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  12. ^ Pfeiffer, Mary Beth (2 October 2011). "Analysis: NY Prison Population's Dramatic Drop". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Washington Correctional Facility" (Prison Monitoring Report). Correctional Association of New York. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  14. ^ Fine, Thomas (4 January 1992). "NYC Offers to Resell Prisons". Syracuse Post-Standard. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  15. ^ "DOCCS FACT SHEET 8/1/2016" (PDF). NYS DOCCS. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  16. ^ Spector, Joseph (9 May 2011). "Study Shows NY Corrections Running 88% Capacity". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Corrections statue section 121". New York State Senate. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  18. ^ "NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision".
  19. ^ Schwirtz, Michael; Winerip, Michael; Gebeloff, Robert (3 December 2016). "The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York State's Prisons". New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Repeal of Death Sentence Regulations (Section 103.45 of 7 NYCRR)" (Archive). New York State Department of Correctional Services. Retrieved on September 2, 2010. "Repeal regulations requiring death sentence warrants to be provided to the Commissioner and persons sentenced to death to be delivered to Clinton and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities (death row)[...]"
  21. ^ "People v Taylor". Justia Law. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  22. ^ "Inmate 99-B-0067" (Archive). New York State Department of Correctional Services. Saturday January 16, 1999. Retrieved on September 2, 2010."Monroe County Sheriff's Department officers transported Mateo at 4:45 a.m. today to the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora in Clinton County, location of the Unit for Condemned Prisoners (UCP) who are male[...]The UCP at Clinton has been physically operable for use since August 31, 1995, the day before the death penalty law took effect, as has a similar three-cell UCP for females at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County plus the single-cell death house at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville in Dutchess County. Neither of the two latter units will be staffed until there are inmates on them."
  23. ^ Scott, Brendan. "GOV PULLS SWITCH ON DEATH CELL" (Archive). New York Daily News. July 24, 2008. Retrieved on September 2, 2010. "The Department of Correctional Services has quietly struck from the books a 40-year-old rule that designated the upstate Green Haven Correctional Facility the state's "Capital Punishment Unit."[...] Although seven defendants were sentenced to death after then-Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, signed the law, the death house has never hosted an execution.[...]"
  24. ^ "Department Receives First Death Penalty Inmate." New York State Department of Correctional Services. July 22, 1998. Retrieved on September 2, 2010.
  25. ^ The Officer Down Memorial Page

External links