Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
David A. Paterson, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182

New York State Sheriffs� Association
Michael Amato, President & Sheriff, Montgomery County
Peter Kehoe, Executive Director

Contact: Thomas Mitchell, Counsel
518 434-9091

For immediate release:

June 12, 2008

DOCS to Open New Inmate Intake Centers at Albion and Auburn at Sheriffs� Request; Move Will Save Money for Property Taxpayers

County property taxpayers in Western and Central New York will save money as a result of two new Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) intake centers that will lower the cost for counties to transport convicted felons to State prison.

DOCS plans to open one intake center at Albion Correctional Facility, a women�s prison in Orleans County, and another at Auburn Correctional Facility, a men�s prison in Cayuga County, on July 1, 2008.

When county jail inmates are sentenced to serve a prison term in a New York State correctional facility, the county Sheriff is required to transport them to one of a few designated prisons for processing by state correctional officials. Last year, county Sheriffs and the New York City Department of Corrections transported to such designated State prisons 27,702 offenders who either were convicted of a new crime or violated the conditions of their parole.

Sheriffs across the State must now transport female county jail inmates to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, the only DOCS �reception/classification� center for women. Albion is much closer to counties in Western and Central New York. The New York State Sheriffs Association anticipates considerable savings to those counties through reduced transportation and manpower costs, while DOCS anticipates only nominal additional costs.

DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer decided to open Albion and Auburn as intake centers after a recent Sheriffs� Association-sponsored training conference at which a number of Sheriffs told him they must make lengthy trips to deliver inmates into State custody.

�This is a common sense solution that will make government work more efficiently and cost-effectively,� Commissioner Fischer said. �Good government means discussing legitimate concerns and considering reasonable proposals. I appreciate the Sheriffs bringing this to my attention and I�m pleased to follow through with a plan that will help ease the burden on many Sheriffs� Offices � and on the property taxpayers who underwrite their costs.�

Niagara County Sheriff Thomas Beilein said: �This is a great example of how State agencies can help counties during these tough economic times. We just transported two female inmates to Bedford Hills,� Sheriff Beilein said recently, �and this required 23 hours of overtime, and in addition we had to pay other officers to fill the job duties of the officers doing the transport.�

Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, who also serves as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee of the New York State Association of Counties, said: �The gasoline savings alone are considerable. With budgets being what they are, this is a huge step to assist western county Sheriff�s Offices in cost savings, deployment of manpower, and wear and tear on transport vehicles. We applaud DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer for not only listening to Sheriffs� concerns, but then taking positive action giving counties significant cost relief and helping to improve our efficiency.�

Sheriff Spike expects to cut his transportation costs for female inmates by about 60 percent. He noted the round trip for his officers to Bedford Hills is just under 600 miles, while the total trip to Albion will be under 200 miles. The shorter trip will save on officer time and fuel and car expenses, and it will give officers more time to focus on their regular law enforcement and correction officer duties.

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd completed a study of current transport expenses and concluded his office will save nearly $35,000 on an annual basis when he is able to transport State inmates to a closer prison. �At a time when all county budgets are being closely reviewed, these projected savings will help us deliver even more effective law enforcement services to our citizens,� Sheriff Todd said.

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said his county would save just under $40,000 each year with this revised transportation schedule. �In 2007, we transported 1,186 inmates to Elmira (Correctional Facility) on 139 trips, traveling over 26,000 miles and using 2,263 man-hours,� Sheriff Walsh said. �Transporting inmates to State prisons closer to the Sheriff�s Office will save us much time and expense.�

Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato, President of the Sheriffs� Association, added that besides the cost savings, the action by DOCS Commissioner Fischer will enhance officer safety. �Officers transporting inmates to State prisons must often travel for very long periods of time, regardless of weather conditions, and anything we can do to make those trips shorter will also make them safer for our officers,� President Amato said.

Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties, said: �We applaud the leadership and innovation of the Sheriffs� Association and the Department of Correctional Services. This is a great example of how State-County partnerships can provide mutually beneficial solutions to high property taxes. Counties, who deliver a wide array of state services locally, are in a position to know where the system works well, where it breaks down and how to make it more efficient and effective�and this project is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together.�

DOCS is providing some new beds at Albion and Auburn for intake purposes, but the Department already runs regular buses between correctional facilities to transfer inmates and will simply place intake inmates on buses already headed to reception/classification center correctional facilities the next day.

For example, Sheriff�s Offices will drop female inmates at Albion the day before a weekly DOCS bus runs between Albion and Bedford Hills. DOCS also runs regular buses between Auburn and Elmira, which is one of three main male reception/classification centers along with Downstate Correctional Facility in Dutchess County and Ulster Correctional Facility in Ulster County.

Reception/classification centers provide an array of medical and mental health screening and assessment services to help DOCS officials determine the most appropriate State correctional facility to place each inmate. The reception/classification centers also provide each new inmate with an orientation program on prison rules and regulations.

The intake centers will not provide those services.

Last year, 31 counties primarily in Western and Central New York had to transport approximately 400 female inmates to Bedford Hills. Also last year, 10 counties in Central New York transported 1,393 male inmates to reception/classification centers. Counties have also been able, and will continue to be able, to deliver inmates to Clinton and Wende Correctional Facilities (in Clinton and Erie counties, respectively). Those inmates are also then transported by DOCS to reception/classification centers.