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:

Monday September 13, 1999

DOCS suspends serial killer Arthur Shawcross' arts and crafts privileges

Convicted serial killer Arthur Shawcross has lost arts and crafts privileges, at least temporarily, after the Department of Correctional Services learned that he was having his autographs and artworks sold on the Internet, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

Shawcross' privileges were suspended last Friday, one day after the Department learned that eBay, a Web-based auction house, was conducting public auctions on a variety of items bearing Shawcross' signature. A preliminary investigation has determined that Shawcross would mail the autographs and artworks from the Sullivan Correctional Facility where he is housed, to others and receive a fee for those items. The items then would show up for public auction on the Internet.

The Department's rule book for inmates specifically prohibits them from conducting any type of business activity while incarcerated. Shawcross has been charged with two rule book violations: soliciting goods or services (in this case, money) and selling personal articles without approval (his artwork and signature). Inmates are on notice that they are subject to a hearing and disciplinary action if they commit any rule book infraction. Besides having his arts and crafts privileges suspended, Shawcross faces additional disciplinary action in light of the ongoing investigation. There is no violation under the state's "Son of Sam" law, because Shawcross is not accused of benefitting from the crimes that led to his arrest.

A formal hearing on the disciplinary charges is tentatively scheduled for Thursday at Sullivan to give Shawcross the opportunity to defend himself against the charges. While inmates are not entitled to counsel at such hearings conducted by DOCS personnel, inmates are entitled to an inmate assistant who can gather information for their use. If Shawcross is found guilty of the charges by the Hearing Officer, he could lose additional privileges and be subjected to Special Housing Unit (SHU) or "keeplock" time. The Hearing Officer will also decide the length of time that privileges will be revoked. Shawcross could also be transferred to another facility.

"We will not tolerate any inmates engaging in any type of business activity while they are in our custody," said Commissioner Goord. "Those inmates who chose to operate a business and capitalize on their heinous crimes and notoriety can be assured that they will face swift and severe disciplinary action, and a corresponding loss of privileges, following due process on the charges."

Shawcross, 54, is serving a term of 250 years to life for 12 second-degree murder convictions in 1991 in Monroe County. He was received into the state prison system on February, 1, 1991, and has been an inmate at the maximum-security Sullivan prison in Sullivan County since March 22, 1991. Shawcross is not eligible for parole until January 10, 2240.