NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision 

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
David A. Paterson, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

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

For immediate release:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Prison Commissioner Awards Medals to Two Correction Officers; Ceremony Also Honors 35 Who Died in the Line of Duty

Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer awarded two medals today to Correction Officers for acts of bravery and courage, while honoring the memory of employees who have died in the line of duty since 1861.

The 10th annual Memorial Service and Medals Ceremony took place at 1 p.m. at the Department’s Albany Training Academy on New Scotland Road.

Medal of Merit recipients (with full citations available at http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/09MemorialMedals/MedalCitations2009.html) are Correction Officers:

  • Jay Siskavich (pronounced sis-KAH-vich) of Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton County), who despite being stabbed in the arm during a prison yard altercation restrained one inmate to protect a fellow officer and another inmate, and;
  • Al Miller of Orleans Correctional Facility (Orleans County) , who braved dangerous rapids near his home to save a mother and her two young daughters stranded with their kayak from near-certain catastrophe.

Photographs from the ceremony will be available this afternoon at http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/09MemorialMedals/index.html

In a message, Governor David A. Paterson said: “The extraordinary individuals we honor today risked their own lives and showed remarkable heroism to protect others.

“They are exemplary role models for the more than 30,000 dedicated Department of Correctional Services employees who work daily under some of the most challenging conditions in our prisons to preserve the safety and integrity of life in this State.”

Denise E. O’Donnell, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Public Safety, said: “We all see the city cop on the beat, the public school teacher striving to ensure that her students reach their potential, the ER nurse working to ease his patient’s pain. But each and every day, the 31,000 men and women of the Department of Correctional Services do those things, and so much more, behind prison walls and razor wire, hidden from public view. I assure you, your work does not go unnoticed: The criminal justice system is stronger and our communities are safer because of the job that each and every one of you does.”

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said: “There is no principle more fundamental to our democracy than ensuring that every citizen has the right to live their life safe. It is through the incredible work of police and corrections officers that our communities stay strong.”

Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, chairman of the Committee on Correction, said: "We will always remember those who have made our democracy safe, and who have done their work in a way that requires us to stop and pause and give them honor year after year, and particularly to the families whose loss is there year after year, we hope that this memorial service serves in some way to say that we are still with you."

Commissioner Fischer said: “The support we provide to our colleagues every day as members of one, united organization is indispensable to our success in maintaining one of the best prison systems in the nation. The employees we honor today symbolize that success and its underpinnings of dedication, professionalism, humanitarianism and courage, both inside and outside the confines of our correctional facilities. Both men displayed the dedication that more than 30,000 of our colleagues devote in ways large and small to the people of this State, day in and day out, in providing security, medical care, education, programming, treatment and dozens of other services necessary to run our correctional facilities.”

Paying tribute to the 35 employees who died in the line of duty, Commissioner Fischer added: “Their sacrifice is never far from our thoughts, and we carry a constant debt of gratitude to each and every one of them for their commitment to the Department, the State, and most importantly, their colleagues and fellow citizens.”

The annual ceremony takes place at the permanent memorial park in front of the Academy building on the 50-acre Albany campus. Since 1984, the Department has awarded 100 medals of merit and 46 medals of honor. The centerpiece of the memorial park in front of the Academy is an Empire blue granite memorial that stands 12 feet high, six feet wide, 18 inches deep and weighs 19,711 pounds. The names of fallen employees are enshrined with plaques displayed in the Academy Memorial Room. Governor Paterson's proclamation of May 31-June 6, 2009, as "Correctional Services Employee Week" is also on display there.