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:

Friday, August 7, 1998

New maximum-security modular unit opens at Fishkill Correctional Facility

A new 100-cell double-occupancy maximum-security modular unit at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Dutchess County is operating at 25 percent capacity following Thursday's transfer of 24 inmates from other prisons throughout the state.

The Fishkill modular unit opened Tuesday with the transfer of 26 inmates from other prisons throughout the state and is the last of eight such units to open in New York. Similar modular units at Gouverneur Correctional Facility in St. Lawrence County and Collins Correctional Facility in Erie County opened last week and continue to receive inmates through transfers from other state prisons. The Fishkill, Gouverneur and Collins units will be at full occupancy of 200 inmates by the end of this month through additional transfers.

Earlier this year, similar modular units opened at Cayuga Correctional Facility in Cayuga County, Orleans Correctional Facility in Orleans County, Greene Correctional Facility in Greene County, Lakeview Correctional Facility in Chautauqua County and Mid-State Correctional Facility in Oneida County. All currently are operating at full capacity of 200 inmates. Like Fishkill, Gouverneur and Collins, the aforementioned are all medium-security prisons.

"These new maximum-security disciplinary housing units provide the dedicated men and women who work in our 69 prisons with a safe and secure workplace," said Governor George E. Pataki. "These new units provide the cells we need to lock up those offenders who assault staff and other inmates and violate other prison rules. As a result, this frees up general confinement cells, allowing the prison system to accept from Dutchess County and other counties throughout New York those offenders who have been sentenced to state prison.

"In addition," said Governor Pataki. "as more violent offenders receive longer sentences under my 1995 Sentencing Reform Act, the prison system will have more cells to lock up these violent offenders."

"These new disciplinary housing units provide us with the maximum-security space that we need," said Commissioner Glenn S. Goord of the Department of Correctional Services. "By removing disruptive inmates from general population and confining them in Special Housing Unit (SHU) cells, our security is enhanced, which enables our prisons to operate more efficiently and more effectively."

A total of 47 new security and civilian posts, with an annual payroll of $1.75 million, have been authorized for each of the eight new modular units. Those positions include 26 Correction Officers, four Sergeants, nine support staff, four health services employees and four program services employees.

The eight new modular units were part of Governor Pataki's proposed prison expansion included in the 1997-98 budget. That expansion authorized the addition of 1,550 maximum-security cells, the largest cell expansion since the construction of Attica Correctional Facility was approved in 1929. Besides the modular units, the budget authorized construction of a new 750-cell double-occupancy maximum-security prison in Franklin County. That facility is under construction in Malone and is scheduled to open next June. Construction of an additional 750-cell double-occupancy maximum-security prison was authorized in the current budget. A site for that prison has not yet been determined.

The 100-cell maximum-security modular units are specifically designed to keep contact between inmates and staff and between inmates themselves to a minimum. That greatly reduces the possibility of disciplinary incidents while holding the line on management costs.

Inmates assigned to the new modular units will be confined to their cells around-the-clock with the exception of medical and legal appointments, very limited family visits and one hour each day of court-mandated outdoor recreation.

Contact between inmates and staff, and among other inmates, will be minimal in the modular units. All inmates will be fed in their cells and each cell also has a shower. That means there's no need for staff to escort inmates to a community messhall or shower area, reducing the opportunity for disruptive inmates to assault staff. Each cell also can be accessed through the rear to an enclosed recreation area for the required one-hour-a-day outdoor recreation, further minimizing contact between inmates and staff.

Prior to the opening of each unit, assigned staff receive two weeks of intensive training encompassing issues like cell extractions, search procedures, suicide prevention, special housing unit procedures, equipment, defensive tactics and other security and operational issues. Training is expected to continue on a regular basis.

The eight units are based upon a prototype that opened last year at Marcy Correctional Facility in Oneida County. Having monitored that facility's initial operations, Commissioner Goord decided that security staffing should be increased from 19 Correction Officers and two Sergeants to the current complement of 26 Officers and four Sergeants. Governor Pataki supported Commissioner Goord's initiative and authorized its funding.