Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Wednesday, July 30, 1997

Budget agreement OKs Governor's plan for largest cell expansion in 70 years

The budget agreement reached last night authorizing the construction of 1,550 cells is the largest cell expansion authorized since the building of Attica Correctional Facility was approved in 1929, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

"The budget recognizes the need for more maximum-security cells to house the violent offenders who will be serving longer sentences under Governor Pataki's ´truth in sentencing´ bill that was enacted into law by the Legislature in 1995," Commissioner Goord said.

"New York has seen an unprecedented reduction in crime since Governor Pataki took office - an overall 23 percent decrease led by a 24 percent reduction in robbery, 22 percent decline in assaults and a one-third decrease in murders," Commissioner Goord said. "Having the space to lock up violent offenders contributes to that record reduction in crime. Having cells to house them protects prison employees. Its a win-win situation for all New Yorkers."

Commissioner Goord said that Governor Pataki's 1997-98 Executive Budget proposal included a three-year construction plan for 3,600 cells, with 1,950 of them coming on line in the first two years. The two-year expansion plan contained in last night's budget agreement brings on 1,550 cells in the next two years.

The 1,550 cells break down this way:

  • Eight 100-cell maximum-security blocks within the perimeter of existing medium-security prisons. They will operate as disciplinary housing units, meaning inmates will be confined to their cells around-the-clock, except for medical, legal and limited family visits plus one hour each day of court-mandated outdoor recreation.
  • A 750-cell maximum-security prison. One-hundred and fifty cells will be occupied by cadre inmates, who will work in the mess hall, laundry and perform other work assignments. The balance will be used for a variety of purposes, including as disciplinary housing space as well as to house limited privilege and protective custody inmates who will receive in-cell programming. The prison will have the standard maximum-security perimeter: an inner 8-foot fence topped and banked with razor wire, a microwave detection system and then a 16-foot exterior fence banked and topped with razor wire.

All 1,550 cells will be located in two-story cell blocks. Each cell will consist of 105 square feet, making them the largest in the system, and will have showers and toilets. Each cell will have a controlled rear door leading to an enclosed recreation area, further minimizing the amount of contact between staff and inmates.

Sites for the new construction will be selected as part of the process of enacting budget bills over the next few days. A construction schedule is now being prepared to bring the eight 100-cell units on line within the next 12 months, while it will take nearly two years to build the new prison. Staffing for the new facilities has not yet been finalized.