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:

Thursday, June 25, 1998

New maximum-security modular unit opens at Mid-State Correctional Facility

The new 100-cell double-occupancy maximum-security modular unit at Mid-State Correctional Facility in Oneida County is scheduled to receive another 24 inmates today.

Similar modular units opened earlier this year at Cayuga Correctional Facility in Cayuga County, Orleans Correctional Facility in Orleans County, Greene Correctional Facility in Greene County and Lakeview Correctional Facility in Chautauqua County. Identical 100-cell maximum-security modular units are under construction at three other medium-security prisons - Collins, Fishkill and Gouverneur. All are scheduled to open this summer.

"The men and women who work in New York state's 69 prisons deserve a safe and secure work place," said Governor George E. Pataki. "That includes having the disciplinary housing unit cells to lock up offenders who assault them and violate other prison rules. In turn, this frees up general confinement cells, allowing the prison system to accept from Oneida and other counties those offenders who have been sentenced to state prison.

"Additionally, 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," said Governor Pataki.

"These increased capacity provides us with much-needed maximum-security space," said Commissioner Glenn S. Goord of the Department of Correctional Services. "We have nearly 70,000 inmates but fewer than 21,000 cells. We need more cells, especially in disciplinary Special Housing Units, to house those inmates who assault staff and disrupt our facilities.

"This expansion also helps address the need for more maximum-security cells to house those violent offenders who will be serving longer sentences under Governor Pataki's Truth in Sentencing Law for repeat violent felony offenders," said Commissioner Goord. "At the same time, we will enhance security inside our prisons through our increased ability to segregate disruptive and violent inmates from staff and other inmates."

The latest round of transfers into Mid-State will increase the population of the new modular unit to 150 inmates. The unit opened June 9 and will operate as a disciplinary housing unit for disruptive inmates throughout the prison system. The $10.3 million unit is expected to be at full capacity by the end of next week, following two more rounds of transfers.

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 summer. Construction of an additional 750-cell double-occupancy maximum-security prison was authorized in the current budget.

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. In addition, each cell can be accessed through the rear to an enclosed recreation area for the required one-hour-a-day outdoor recreation. That further minimizes 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 the initiative and authorized its funding.