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:

Wednesday JULY 7, 1999

Upstate Correctional Facility opens with first round of inmate transfers

The Upstate Correctional Facility in Franklin County - New York state's newest prison - opens this week with the transfer of 160 inmates from other state prisons. The 750-bed, double-occupancy maximum-security prison is located in the town of Malone.

The first transfers to Upstate are from the Bare Hill, Downstate and Sing Sing correctional facilities. They include some of the 300 cadre inmates who will work in the prison mess hall and laundry and perform other work assignments throughout the facility.

The remaining 1,200 inmates, the vast majority of whom have had numerous disciplinary infractions during their time in the state prison system, will be housed in their Upstate cells 23 hours a day, with one hour of court-mandated outdoor exercise and very limited property and visiting privileges.

Current plans call for 40 inmates to be transferred to Upstate each weekday beginning July 6 until the prison's full complement of 1,500 inmates is attained toward the end of August. The transfers will include a mix of cadre inmates and those with disciplinary problems. The cadre inmates will comprise much of the initial rounds of transfers, to ensure that needed and critical support services are maintained.

For instance, of the 160 inmates scheduled to be transferred to Upstate this week, 100 will be cadre inmates. The remaining 60 inmates will be housed in their Upstate cells 23 hours a day.

Governor George E. Pataki proposed the construction of Upstate in the 1997-98 budget plan, a request which was approved by the state Legislature. Governor Pataki subsequently proposed, and the Legislature also approved, construction of an additional 750-bed, double-occupancy maximum-security prison in his 1998-99 state budget. That prison, which has not yet been named, is under construction in Seneca County and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2000. Governor Pataki also proposed construction of a third 750-bed, double-occupancy maximum-security prison in his budget plan for the current fiscal year, a proposal which the Legislature has yet to approve.

"This ongoing expansion helps address the need for more maximum-security cells to house those offenders who will be serving longer sentences under Governor Pataki's 1995 "Truth in Sentencing Law" for repeat violent felons, as well as those who will be serving longer terms under Jenna's Law for first-time felons," said Commissioner Glenn S. Goord of the Department of Correctional Services.

A total of 535 full-time employees, with an annual payroll of $21.3 million, has been authorized for Upstate. Security personnel comprise 366 of those positions. As of today, 285 of the 366 security personnel authorized for Upstate - 325 of whom will be Correction Officers - are on site. Additional security staff will be added as the inmate population increases, with all 366 security personnel scheduled to be on site by July 29.

Additionally, 127 of the 169 civilian employees authorized for Upstate are now on site. Those numbers also will increase as the inmate population does. All civilian personnel are scheduled to be on site in September, when the fall academic semester begins.

Upstate, like the nine maximum-security S-blocks located at nine medium-security prisons throughout the state, is designed to segregate from the general population those inmates who assault staff and inmates, and disobey prison rules. This means a safer working environment for staff and others; the new cells also will allow the state to accept some state-ready inmates who have been backed up in county jails throughout New York.

"These new maximum-security prisons, coupled with the S-blocks, provides us with an effective management tool to segregate from the general population those inmates who chose to disobey prison rules and assault staff and others," said Commissioner Goord. "The men and women who work in our 71 facilities deserve a safe and secure working environment and this ongoing expansion duly affords them and their families that protection."

Each cell at Upstate - like those at the 100-bed, double-occupancy S-blocks - consists of 105 square feet, making them the largest in the system. Each of the 600 Upstate cells designated for inmates to be housed around-the-clock also have showers, toilets and an enclosed rear door leading to an enclosed exercise area. This further minimizes the amount of contact between staff and inmates, once again enhancing security.