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, May 13, 2002

Commissioner Goord's opening remarks before a hearing conducted by Governor George E. Pataki's Attica Task Force on Thursday, May 9, 2002, at the Rochester Institute of Technology

Good morning everyone.

My name is Glenn Goord. I am the Commissioner of the state Department of Correctional Services. Governor Pataki appointed me chairman of the Attica Task Force. Joining me this morning are my Task Force colleagues:

  • Senator Dale M. Volker of Depew, who is also chairman of the Codes Committee, and
  • Assemblymember Arthur O. Eve of Buffalo, who is the Deputy Speaker.
  • Joining us is Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry of Queens, chairman of the Correction Committee.

For each of us, I welcome you to these historic proceedings.

For 30 years, the state of New York did not hear from the employees who survived being taken hostage at Attica in 1971. It denied a voice to the survivors of the employees killed there.

Governor Pataki changed that last year. He announced the voice they were denied was to be heard - officially and publicly.

He charged this task force with looking into the issues of concern to the Forgotten Victims of Attica. Governor Pataki intends that you will be forgotten no longer.

These hearings today represent the results of three lengthy meetings. The task force has traveled to Attica to meet with the victims in a building outside the prison perimeter.

We agreed it is now time to bring our proceedings before the public.

Our goal is to allow each of the victims to tell their stories publicly. That will include how they were treated. We do not ask them to document their grievances, only to state them. We will willingly take each victim and survivor at their word.

We will not interrogate the victims or their survivors. We will only ask questions designed to clarify any point we do not understand.

This forum is designed to give the victims and survivors their voice. We will set no time limit on anyone's testimony.

We anticipate, through agreement with the Forgotten Victims, that each witness will address the five areas of concern to them: compensation, counseling, a memorial service, access to records and an apology.

Many of the victims will be testifying during these hearings; some will not. Those who prefer not to present oral testimony are more than welcome to submit written statements to this task force. They will be made as much of an official part of our proceedings as the testimony presented before us.

This task force has no pre-conceived notions as to where it will go. We will hear from the victims and a few non-members today. Then, we will schedule the remaining members of the victim's group. Then we will schedule the non-members recommended by the Forgotten Victims whom the task force believes can present relevant testimony.

As these proceedings continue, we might well seek the testimony of other non-members if we believe their testimony might be relevant as well.

At the end of the process, the task force will meet the Governor's mandate that we examine the five issues of concern to the Forgotten Victims of Attica. We will meet the Governor's expectation that we provide guidance to him and the Legislature in helping them to address these concerns.

There is no artificial deadline for the conclusion of our work - only that we proceed with due diligence. We intend to spend the time it takes to hear from every member of the Forgotten Victims and any non-members we consider relevant to meeting the Governor's mandate.

With that said, I think we should begin the historic business before us today.