Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Delivered by Commissioner Glenn S. Goord during the Memorial Service and Medals Ceremony at the Albany Training Academy. 

Ladies and gentlemen, let's give one more round of applause to these medal recipients for their acts of bravery and courage during the past year.

This is a special day in the 21-year history of the medals program. It is the first time all recipients have been honored for placing themselves in harm's way in our prisons, across our state and half-way around the world in Iraq.

In his letters commending each of today's recipients, Governor Pataki wrote "there can be no greater tribute to a person than the acknowledgment by others for the impressive and extraordinary achievements of one's life."

The bravery and courage that the Governor commends are the same attributes shown by all our employees throughout the year.

Today we also honor the 35 men and women who gave their lives in service to this Department and the people of New York state.

This year is special for them, too.

This year, we come together with the knowledge that, finally, New York state has given a voice to the concerns of the true victims of the Attica riot - the employees of this Department.

Through a bill proposed and signed into law this year by Governor Pataki, we address two of their concerns that required legislation.

The first is compensation to the employee victims and the survivors of those who died. Twelve million dollars is being appropriated for approximately 50 employee families. That is the same amount granted to 504 inmate plaintiffs as a result of a federal lawsuit.

The legislation also guarantees employee victims and survivors a September 13th annual memorial service at the monument in front of the prison. Ceremonies have been held at the monument since 1972. Both Governor Pataki and I will ensure their continuance. However, this legislation ensures access for the ceremony under future Governors and Commissioners.

George Pataki is the first Governor in more than 30 years to give a voice to the employee victims of the Attica riot. He demanded that they be heard and provided the public forum in which they spoke. He deserves great credit for that.

Credit also goes to the two legislators you just heard from. I want to thank both Senator Volker and Assemblyman Aubry for their contributions and input representing their respective houses as members of Governor Pataki's Attica Task Force.

I also want to thank former-Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur Eve. Arthur was an Assemblymember and a negotiator during the 1971 riot. Three decades later, he was a member of the Attica Task Force. He contributed greatly to our work.

As we remember our fallen heroes today, I want to recall the words used by Governor Pataki in proclaiming June 5-11 as Correctional Services Employee Week in New York state.

The Governor commemorated the 35 employees who died in the line of duty, as well as the five employees we honor today.

The Governor noted the tremendous dangers that our employees face each and every day.

The Governor wrote "it is fitting that the citizens of this state remember and commend all correctional employees for performing such perilous and challenging duties with the greatest vigilance and attentiveness to public safety."

Like Governor Pataki, I am proud of the employees of this Department.

You perform the most difficult tasks that we ask of any state employees.

Your professionalism and dedication make you the best correctional work force in the nation.

I am proud to serve as your Commissioner.