Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

DOCS Fact Sheet

2009-10 State Budget


Background

The 2009-10 State Budget, for the fiscal year that began April 1, 2009, was enacted by the State Legislature and signed by Governor David A. Paterson in April 2009. It changes State law in ways that will have both a direct and indirect impact on the State’s prison population and the administration of the prison system, as follows:

Facility Closures

The Commissioner was authorized to close Camp Pharsalia, Camp Gabriels and Camp Mt. McGregor on or after July 1, 2009 but before March 31, 2010. The budget assumes $12 million in savings from the closures based upon a July 1 closure date. Commissioner Fischer plans to close the three facilities on or around July 1. The Commissioner is required to submit a report for an adaptive reuse plan for the closure facilities by October 1, 2009.

The Commissioner also has the authority to close annexes and special housing units without the one-year notice required under Correction Law. Commissioner Fischer intends to close the annexes at the following facilities by October 1, 2009: Green Haven, Groveland, Lakeview, Washington, Eastern, Sullivan and the minimum security portion of Butler.

Shock Expansion

Shock Incarceration is now open to inmates up to and including 49 years of age. Also, an otherwise eligible non-violent inmate can now be selected from a general confinement facility when, in the case of an indeterminate sentence, the inmate is within three years of parole eligibility; and in the case of an inmate serving a drug determinate sentence, when the inmate is within three years of conditional release.

Limited Credit Time

With certain exceptions, offenders serving sentences for non-drug A-I offenses or violent felony offenses can earn a six-month credit time reduction from their sentence. For A-I offenders, excluding those convicted of first-degree murder, the six month credit will come off the minimum period. For violent felony offenders, excluding sex offenders, the credit will come off the conditional release period. In addition to a positive behavioral record, the inmate must also achieve a significant program milestone such as two years of college or an apprenticeship certification from the Department of Labor. Though similar in some respects, this program will be completely separate and distinct from the traditional merit time program.

Graduated Sanctions

The chairman of the Parole Board will consider the adoption of graduated sanctions for parole violators, including alternatives to incarceration for technical parole violators, and the use of a risk and needs assessment instrument administered to all inmates eligible for parole supervision.

Housing of Inmates

DOCS can house federal inmates.

The Commissioner has broader discretion to make space available to temporarily house inmates from local jails when exigent circumstances arise, including whether or not to charge for such an accommodation.

DOCS can enter into agreements with localities and charge actual costs to house inmates serving definite sentences of imprisonment in excess of ninety days. Except for New York City, the agreements must provide for the inmates to be housed in a facility in the same county or an adjacent county to the one where the jail is located.

Expansion of Medical Parole

Inmates who suffer from non-terminal medical conditions that render them so physically or cognitively debilitated that they do not present a danger to society can be released under medical parole. Certain violent felons who have served at least half their sentence are eligible. The application process also will be streamlined.

Outside Sale of Food

DOCS can sell food produced at the Food Production Center, at cost, to charitable institutions, including food kitchens and homeless shelters. DOCS can also sell food at cost to counties for governmental purposes.

State-Ready Payments

DOCS will not reimburse localities for housing “state-ready” inmates unless DOCS fails to accept the inmate within 10 business days, provided that the inmate does not also require a hospital or an infirmary bed. If reimbursement is required, DOCS will pay $100 per day, or actual costs, whichever is less, retroactive to day one.

State Commission of Correction

Except in circumstances involving health, safety or alleged violations, the SCOC must take into consideration available resources, workload and staffing in the scheduling of inspections of State correctional facilities.

SCOC will also promulgate annual rules and regulations establishing minimum standards for the review of the construction or improvement of correctional facilities.

Training Oversight

Beginning in October 2009, the Division of Criminal Justice Services will take over training oversight responsibilities from SCOC.

Pilot Medicaid Enrollment Project

Subject to a $200,000 appropriation, the Commissioner, in coordination with the Department of Health, the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance and the Division of Parole, will select a facility to host a pilot Medicaid enrollment project to file applications for medical assistance for eligible inmates prior to their release to the community.

Legislative Extenders

All of the key provisions of law affecting DOCS which periodically sunset and were scheduled to sunset on September 1, 2009 have now been extended for an additional two years, until September 1, 2011. This includes such things as the temporary release, Shock Incarceration, earned eligibility, and psychological screening of correction officer candidates.

Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act

DOCS can now temporarily keep in custody a sex offender who is the subject of a pending civil management proceeding and for whom a probable cause determination was found, provided that the sex offender and his counsel consent in writing to such an arrangement. Without this new provision, the sex offender would have to be transferred to a secure treatment facility operated by the Office of Mental Health before a final determination of the proceeding on the merits.

2009-10 State Budget - Drug Law Reform

Background: The 2009-10 State Budget includes changes in the State’s drug laws that will impact on the State prison system:

Willard

Criteria for Willard have been expanded to include the following:

  • An offender previously convicted of a class B drug felony.
  • A first felony offender convicted of a class B drug offense, except if convicted of the new class B crime of sale to a child (see below).
  • A repeat class C drug felony offender.
  • A second felony offender convicted of burglary in the third degree, if the court finds the offender has a history of controlled substance dependence and that such dependence was a significant contributing factor in the offender’s criminal conduct. If the offender was indicted for either burglary in the first or second degree, the district attorney would have to consent to a plea to the lesser offense with a Willard sentence.

Additionally, an offender convicted of a Willard-eligible offense can get sentenced to Willard without the consent of the district attorney.

Judicial Diversion

Starting in October 2009:

  • Any class B or lower drug felony or any specified Willard offense is eligible for judicial diversion to drug treatment instead of prison, without the consent of the district attorney, provided the offender is not also charged with a violent felony or other excludable offense and has not been convicted within the last ten years of a violent felony, merit ineligible offense or class A felony.
  • A defendant with an excludable offense, such as a violent felony, can still be diverted to treatment if the district attorney consents. A typical case will require a defendant to plead guilty and be subject to a specified sentence as a consequence of failure.
  • The judge can sentence second felony offenders as first felony offenders in consideration of the amount of treatment actually completed if the offender fails in treatment.
  • Those who successfully complete treatment may get their records conditionally sealed.

Where possible, such cases must be heard in drug courts.

Sentencing Changes

First time class B drug felony offenders and repeat class C, D or E second felony drug offenders, where the predicate was not a violent felony, are now eligible to get a definite sentence of one year or less, or five years’ probation, except those convicted of the new crime of class B drug felony of sale to child (see below).

The lowest sentence for a repeat class B drug offender whose predicate is non-violent is two years, down from three and one-half years.

The lowest sentence for a repeat class C drug offender whose predicate is non-violent is one and one half years, down from two years.

Shock Sentencing

The sentencing court can order DOCS to enroll a drug defendant into the Shock Incarceration Program when the defendant is eligible, similar to what has been the case with the Comprehensive Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment (CASAT) Program. There is a special alternate placement process for any court-ordered Shock defendant who requires a degree of medical care or mental health care not available at a Shock facility. The inmate must be notified of the alternative placement. If the inmate objects in writing to placement in such alternative program, DOCS must notify the sentencing court and explain the alternative proposal. The court must then conduct a proceeding and may modify its original sentence accordingly. Any inmates who successfully complete an alternative to shock program will be treated in the same manner as if they had completed Shock.

CASAT Phase II Transfers

Repeat class B drug felony offenders will be able to be transferred to Phase II of the CASAT Program after at least nine months in custody (including jail time), down from at least 18 months.

OASAS Monitoring

Beginning in October 2009, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) will monitor programs providing care and treatment to inmates in DOCS correctional facilities who have a history of alcohol or substance abuse dependence. OASAS will develop operating guidelines to ensure such programs meet the needs of inmates to transition back to the community. OASAS will submit a report by December 1 of each year to the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, Assembly Speaker and various Committee Chairs addressing the adequacy and effectiveness of the programs.

Resentencing Procedures

Beginning in October 2009, any eligible class B drug felony offender in DOCS with an indeterminate sentence greater than one to three years can apply to the courts to be resentenced to a determinate term in accordance with the new ranges. The procedures are the same as those that were in effect when class A-I offenders were allowed to apply for resentencing, except courts can also take into consideration participation or willingness to participate in programming. Offenders are not eligible for resentencing if, within the last ten years, they were convicted of a violent felony or a merit ineligible offense.

New Crimes

Beginning November 1, 2009, there will be two new crimes:

  • Class B felony criminal sale of a controlled substance (CSCS) to a child, which involves someone over the age of 21 committing CSCS 3 or CSCS 4 to a person who is less than 17.
  • Operating as major trafficker, a class A-I felony. This crime targets top and mid-level management within a drug organization of at least four people that sells drugs worth at least $75,000. An offender convicted of this new crime can be sentenced to between 15 years to life and 25 years to life, except a determinate sentence of between 8 and 20 years is also authorized if the indeterminate sentence would be unduly harsh.
 

April, 2009

State of New York
Department of Correctional Services
1220 Washington Avenue
State Campus, Building 2
Albany, NY 12226-2050
Brian Fischer, Commissioner
www.doccs.ny.gov