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, February 26, 2003

Commissioner Goord issues statement on arrest of imam

"I am gratified with the investigation that culminated in indictments today," Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said this afternoon. "We will continue to provide our full support to all investigations by law enforcement agencies on all levels. State law enforcement officials were aware of the Muslim chaplain's involvement and we fully cooperated with this investigation."

He added, "All state employees are judged upon personal conduct, and that will continue. If any employee's conduct is found to have fallen below our standards or in violation of state or federal law, they should be held accountable and punished for their actions like any one else.

"Today's arrest of a Muslin chaplain should not suggest we replace our principle of a presumption of innocence with one of guilt by association.

"In the meantime, we continue the professional operation of a prison system that recorded 20-year lows in both 2001 and 2002 in the numbers and rates of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff violence.

"The professionalism of DOCS' work force begins with the extensive interviews and background checks conducted of all civilian employee applicants. For uniformed personnel, that pre-employment process extends to include psychological screening.

"The constant monitoring and surveillance conducted in all 70 state prisons contributes to ours being the most professional correctional work force in the nation."

Osamah Al-Wahaidy was hired as a Muslim chaplain (imam) in 1997. He has served at the Auburn Correctional Facility since February 2001, having previously worked at the Cape Vincent and Ogdensburg prisons. He is paid $57,140 annually. His listed date of birth is 09/11/62.