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:

January 2, 2000

Prisons reduce extra staffing, slow facility operations

Increased prison civilian and security staffing was reduced over the weekend as facilities continued to run on a slower-than-usual basis with few incidents, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

"Despite the urgings of outsiders that inmates protest the Governor's policies," Mr. Goord said, "many inmates understand they should not risk being disciplined for what are, in reality, state laws and not gubernatorial policies." The Commissioner noted that parole releases, how much inmates are paid, telephone charges, and most of the other issues being raised are the result of state laws, not gubernatorial policies.

"It would not make sense to me to see inmates disrupt facility operations and risk being transferred or disciplined over issues that this Department does not control," Mr. Goord said. "Especially since most of those people calling for a disruption or protest are sitting comfortably at home today and not subject to the penalties that inmates will face if operations are disrupted."

The Commissioner noted that "inmates should be aware that there are many legitimate outlets to air their grievances -- by having themselves, family and friends write their legislators or the governor and participate in the normal process of affecting state policies and laws. There are many ways within the system to state their case, rather than risk discipline for facility disruption."

The Commissioner said that on Friday night, with the potential for Y2K implementation problems as well as the rumors of inmate protests, extra civilian and security staff were on duty in case they were needed by the prison system or in support of the State Emergency Management Office or to aid local governments or localities with their Y2K problems. That included 1,300 civilian employees more than the normal compliment of 700 around the system. By late Saturday, all of the extra staff had been released. Security included 622 Officers plus 1,000 Correction Emergency Response Team members over and above the normal weekend day staffing of 4,600. By late Saturday, the extra Officers were reduced to about 400 plus the 1,000 CERT members.

Throughout the weekend, operations ran normally across the system, with inmates being moved around facilities slower-than-usual in order to protect against any disruptions. Inmate programs, such as recreation and visiting, ran normally at virtually all facilities. The only exceptions were the Sing Sing and Green Haven maximum-security prisons, which have been locked down since December 24th.

"Our obligation is to ensure the safety and security of our 69 prisons for our staff, the inmate population and the communities surrounding our facilities," Mr. Goord said. "We will continue to meet that obligation with the professional and dedicated performance of each of our employees, over this long weekend as well as on each shift each and every day of the year."