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 September 10, 2002

Clinton prison locked down for search, drug-testing of inmates

The main section of Clinton Correctional Facility was locked down at 3 p.m. today to begin a facility wide search that will include the random drug testing of approximately 300 inmates, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord announced this afternoon.

The lock down affects the main complex housing 2,070 inmates in this maximum-security prison that opened in 1845 in Dannemora in Clinton County. The adjoining annex housing 831 inmates is unaffected by the actions in the main.

This is the first time that a state prison lock down has been accompanied by a random, computer-selected drug testing of inmates. Approximately 4,600 Clinton inmates are drug tested annually, with an average 9 percent positivity rate over 2000 and 2001. In the first six months of this year, the rate has risen slightly to 10 percent. In addition, five inmate-on-inmate assaults at Clinton this month appear to be drug-related. No further comment will be made on those incidents until the investigations are completed.

"Clinton's staff is among the best in their vigilance in detecting contraband and preventing its introduction into our facilities, thereby decreasing the incidence of inmate-on-inmate violence," the Commissioner said.

Inmate searches uncovered 262 items of contraband in Clinton during 1996 but that had dropped to 117 last year (down 55 percent). And while there were 141 inmate-on-inmate assaults at Clinton in 1996, there were 74 last year (down 48 percent). Overall, the number of all types of incidents at Clinton has declined from 496 in 1996 to 313 last year (down 37 percent).

Commissioner Goord said, "Clinton remains a safe and secure prison and I intend to keep it that way. My intention is to come down hard and early on inmates who engage in conduct that could endanger staff or inmates. Inmates who violate prison rules and their outside drug sources can be creative. For the protection of employees and other inmates, we intend to be more creative in our response. Any inmate testing positive for illegal drugs will be subject to the strongest Departmental or criminal charges possible - as will those found in possession of contraband, especially drugs or weapons. We will intensify both our inmate drug testing and cell searches at Clinton."

During a lock down, inmates are confined to their cells around-the-clock except for medical care or visits. Meanwhile, staff will conduct a search for contraband in all common areas of the prison as well as in all inmate cells. The lock down of the main complex is expected to continue through at least Monday. The last lock down at Clinton was from Dec. 23-27, 2001.