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, November 12, 1999

Green Haven lockdown continues after discovery of explosive containers

The lockdown that began Wednesday afternoon at the Green Haven Correctional Facility for a facility frisk will continue into the middle of next week, following the discovery on Wednesday of two explosive containers in the prison, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

During a routine staff search Wednesday morning of the facility gym, one suspicious container filled with an unknown powdery substance was discovered hidden in an area near the gym. The area was immediately locked down, and New York State Police with a canine unit were called in to assist Correction Officers in a subsequent, comprehensive search of the area. The continued search uncovered a second suspicious container a few hours later, filled with a similar powdery substance, a few feet from the first.

The Division of State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany today concluded the substance in each of the two plastic containers is gunpowder. No ignition-type devices were found in either container. After the nature of the substance was confirmed today, the State Police are dispatching two more of their canine units to assist in the continuing search.

"This is an obvious and serious security breach. To ensure the safety of staff and others, I ordered the lockdown so our employees and others can conduct a comprehensive, thorough search of the facility's gymnasium, individual cells and all other common areas for contraband," said Commissioner Goord. "We intend to maintain a secure environment for all those who work in our prison system as well as for the inmate population. When identified, those connected to these devices will face criminal charges of the highest degree possible."

Thus far, two housing units plus some communal areas - such as the gymnasium and school building - have been frisked. A search of all housing and communal areas will continue through the weekend and run into the middle of next week.

The lockdown and frisk began Wednesday at approximately 5:30 p.m., following the evening mess hall run. It means that all of Green Haven's 2,160 inmates are being confined to their cells while the entire facility is searched for contraband. Inmates can be escorted by Correction Officers for medical calls and visits but all educational, vocational and industrial programming and recreational activities are suspended until the facility-wide frisk is concluded. The last lockdown at Green Haven, a maximum-security prison in Dutchess County, was from June 21-25, 1999.