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:

Tuesday July 6, 1999

Downstate Correctional Facility inmate hangs self in cell

An inmate at the Downstate Correctional Facility hung himself in his cell on July 3 using his bed sheet.

The inmate, Bernard Hynes, was seen hanging in his cell at 2:25 p.m. by one of 20 inmates who were returning to their cells from an outdoor recreation period. The bed sheet was attached to a hinge on the top of the cell door and around the inmate's neck. The inmate who saw Hynes hanging notified a Correction Officer, and staff immediately responded to the scene. Hynes, who was unconscious, was cut down, and staff attempted to revive him. The inmate was taken to the facility's infirmary and transported by ambulance to St. Luke's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead by an emergency room physician at 3:35 p.m.

The cause of death has not been determined, pending the results of an autopsy. The inmate was last seen alive in his cell at approximately 1:45 p.m. by an Officer who was making rounds of the cellblock.

Hynes, 19, was serving a term of 25 to 50 years for seven 1999 convictions out of St. Lawrence County: first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree sodomy, second-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree burglary. He was received into the state prison system on May 7 and had been an inmate at Downstate since May 11.

Hynes would have been eligible for parole on June 5, 2023. He had a conditional release date of October 5, 2031, and his maximum term would have expired June 5, 2048.

The hanging is the fifth suicide this year in the state prison system now housing 70,986 inmates. The last suicide, also a hanging, occurred May 9 at Southport Correctional Facility in Chemung County. The last suicide at Downstate, also a hanging, occurred August 17, 1998.

There were 14 suicides in the state prison system last year.

Downstate, a maximum-security prison in the town of Fishkill in Dutchess County, opened in 1979. It currently houses 1,234 inmates.