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 25, 2000

Inmates receiving Newjack following redactions to protect staff and inmates

State prison officials will redact six of the 309 pages in Newjack for safety and security reasons before releasing it to inmates who purchase it or receive it as a gift, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

He said, "It is my obligation to draw the proverbial line at access by today's 70,762 inmates to information that I reasonably believe could endanger them or staff, or could jeopardize the security of our 69 institutions. In a few instances, this book crosses that line. The choice before me is to ban or redact it. I chose the latter as the least restrictive path. These are pages that, while I have no objection to their circulation among the general public, become a potential source of injury or conflict among violent and predatory offenders within our system.

"Any one of our 22,600 security personnel or tens of thousands of other ex-employees could write the same book, most from a longer perspective," Commissioner Goord said. "I have no objection to Newjack's expression of its author's 'view of the world' or opinion. I would have none if it were written by any other employee, past or present. Some employees at the Albany Training Academy and at Sing Sing have expressed their opinions: of being betrayed, misquoted or maligned in this book. Likewise, I take no position on the validity of their claims and I leave it to them to seek whatever redress they deem appropriate. My issues are personal safety and system security."

Commissioner Goord said the pages to be redacted deal with the statewide issues of deployment of chemical agents, use of pressure points and holds taught to Officers to control inmates, control of emergency equipment in the event of a potential staff hostage situations, descriptions of Officer actions and duties during a mass incident, escape procedures, the effective range and use of certain firearms and the local issue of descriptions of security issues in Sing Sing yards. Redaction consists of literally cutting out of the book the affected pages. That also dispatches non-offending passages on the obverse or reverse of the redacted page.

The normal review process is to await the first inmate's reception of written material. It is then withheld until it has been considered by the Media Review Committee at the facility in which the inmate is housed. The first and so far only receipt of this book through the Sing Sing mail room occurred on June 5. Since then, the book has been held awaiting a decision. Sing Sing made its recommendation on the book to the Commissioner's Central Office Media Review Committee in Albany on July 11, which today submitted its recommendations to the Commissioner. The part-time review committees include representatives from the security, administration and program disciplines within the Department. The content of those reviews is being withheld under the state's Freedom of Information Law because they do not represent final agency actions and they discuss security issues affecting Sing Sing and many of the state's 68 other prisons.

When material ordered redacted reaches a prison's mail room, inmates are notified that they have the choice of allowing the redaction or having the unredacted material picked up or mailed to their homes/sender at the inmate's expense. Information contained on redacted pages is considered contraband and inmates are disciplined for its possession. The discipline imposed will be commensurate with an individual inmate's prison behavioral record.