Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Eliot Spitzer, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182

For immediate release:

September 5, 2007

New York Marks 20 Years of Successful Shock Incarceration

Most successful program of its kind in the nation; has reduced crime and saved New York taxpayers more than $1.18 billion

New York marked the 20th anniversary of its successful Shock Incarceration program with a ceremony at Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility (Schuyler County) on Sept. 5, 2007.

The ceremony included remarks by several successful shock graduates, a keynote address by Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer, and remarks from Senator George Winner Jr., R-Elmira, and George B. Alexander, Chairman and CEO of the New York State Division of Parole (Excerpts of their and others’ comments, including Governor Eliot Spitzer’s, are below.)

The event began with a military ceremony known as a “pass in review,” in which inmates marched past visitors and officials by platoon.

A number of national independent research groups have rated New York’s Shock program, which began at Monterey on Sept. 10, 1987, the best in the United States. Through July, the program graduated to parole supervision 36,453 inmates 16 through 39 years of age who were convicted of non-violent crimes and were within three years of release.

The intensive, six-month program of hard physical labor, academic education, drug treatment and personal counseling allows successful graduates to be released as much as 30 months early. While fewer than four percent of incarcerated offenders are Shock participants, the program accounts for more than 10 percent of all offenders paroled each year. Each graduate results in 345 days of reduced demand for prison space. That has saved New York’s taxpayers more than $1.18 billion over 20 years - the operating and capital cost to have incarcerated those inmates for their entire sentences.

The cost savings don’t include incarceration costs spared as a result of lower recidivism rates for shock graduates, aided by the six-month AfterShock supervision program run by the Division of Parole. Fewer than eight percent of all graduates return to prison within a year after their release, a far lower proportion than in any other state.

The savings also don’t reflect the community service work inmate crews perform, estimated to be worth at least $6.2 million to municipalities in 2005. Shock work crews labored 1.2 million hours in community service during calendar year 2006.

Balancing discipline and treatment, Shock includes 675 hours of intensive alcohol and substance abuse treatment and group counseling, 12 hours per week of academic classes, drill instruction, physical training and work crews. Shock inmates passed the GED at a rate of 86 percent, compared with 58 percent of New York’s general public, in the year ending June 30, 2007.

Currently, four state correctional facilities offer a total of 1,410 beds (1,290 for men, 120 for women) for Shock: Monterey, Moriah (Essex County), Lakeview (Chautauqua County), and Summit (Schoharie County). And the 12-year-old Willard Drug Treatment campus in Seneca County is based on the Shock model. As of Sept. 5, there were 1,036 Shock inmates under custody, including 85 women and 54 in reception.

Comments from Shock graduates:

Cheryl Moran, 47, of Manhattan, graduated from Shock at Lakeview on May 4, 1993. “Shock taught me and made me believe I could do anything in world,” said Ms. Moran, a three-time convicted felon who now holds a real estate license, owns a consulting firm and founded her own not-for-profit organization serving the homeless and ex-offenders. “Running 27 miles, through the mud - Shock gave me the energy. Shock saved my life. Nothing else worked for me. I’ve been in 10 to 15 drug programs, therapeutic communities, detox programs. I celebrate two anniversaries – my birthday and May 4, 1993.”

Troy Kennedy, 39, of Schenectady, was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance (3rd degree) and now works as head of staff development for the LaSalle School for Boys in Albany. He is the father of three teenagers. He graduated Shock Oct. 27, 1994.

“In retrospect, looking back, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the program,” Mr. Kennedy said of Shock. “It was just an easy way out. But I began to learn things about myself. Shock was set up to make that happen. I learned to love myself. I knew the day I left there that I had what it took to be successful in life. Monterey Shock had given that to me. It allowed me to take some perspective and say, ‘There are a lot more important things than fast money and cars. Don’t get high on drugs, get high on being a good dad. Show up.’ It showed me how to be a better worker. It allowed me to go out and be part of a team and understand that the main objective was how we can reach our goal as a team. It wasn’t about me anymore.”

Joshua Brown, 41, of the Bronx, was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance (5th degree), graduated Monterey Nov. 6, 1991, and now operates his own program helping inmates and ex-offenders go through college.

“The Network Program (part of the post-Shock release program) really is why I am the way I am today,” Mr. Brown said. “It gave me the opportunity to change the way I was thinking and learn how to confront my negative points and reconstruct my life to make it positive. I use that same motivation I used to use to get high to make a better life for myself, to go back to school, work hard, never give up on myself.”

After his mother died during his Shock Incarceration, Shock staff “treated me like family. It wasn’t even like I was in jail anymore.”

Keith Peterkin, 41, of Brooklyn, graduated from Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility Nov. 9, 1989. He had been convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance (3rd degree).

“That was the turning point in my life,” said Mr. Peterkin, now a supervisor for an organization contracted by the City of New York to assess clients on public assistance. “A lot of things changed from there, all positive. It helped me grow up and mature. I think it made me a better person. It reinforced morals and values.”

Mr. Peterkin’s wife, Yolanda Johnson, 41, graduated from Summit Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility Feb. 15, 1990 after a conviction for criminal possession of a controlled substance (5th degree). She is now director of an association that helps female inmates in New York City.

“I use Shock still today,” Ms. Johnson said. “We talk about the journey and the walk. I’m grateful for the journey. I’m grateful for the opportunity to go to Shock and get my GED. Now I have a masters in social work.”

Daniel Lopez, 44, of the Bronx, was convicted of third-degree robbery and graduated Monterey on June 1, 1989. “When I went in for Shock, I went in kicking and screaming,” said Mr. Lopez, a lecturing instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, of which he is a graduate, and a former executive chef at the United Nations. “Six months later, I came out singing and crying. I went in hopeless. The biggest thing I can take away is that one word in the five steps of decision-making they have: possibilities.”

Comments from Officials:

Governor Eliot Spitzer said: “I applaud the Department’s hard work and dedication to this innovative program, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the Nation. This milestone anniversary is a testament to Commissioner Fischer and the many DOCS employees who have made this program an international model.”

Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Public Safety Michael Balboni said: “This success can be measured in the more than $1 billion saved or in the 35,000 graduates of this internationally-recognized program. The most important measures, however, are in the lives that were turned around, in the hope that was restored and in the value of lessons learned.”

Senator George Winner said: “Over the past two decades the Monterey Shock Incarceration Facility has been a noteworthy example of cost-effectiveness and success in New York government. Monterey has turned many young lives around. It’s been very positive for the taxpayers, for many local communities and for society as a whole.”

Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer said: “Shock combines the best concepts of rehabilitation with proven success. Facilities like Monterey show what can be accomplished when dedicated staff provide meaningful programs to those willing to make a change in their lives. Shock has become the process by which hard work and positive thinking create success.”

Division of Parole Chairman and CEO George B. Alexander said: “New York State has set a tremendous precedent with its Shock Incarceration program. The Division believes such programs provide a useful alternative to traditional incarceration and can help prepare inmates for an easier transition back into society. We congratulate the Department of Correctional Services for the program’s 20 years of success.”

Dr. Cheryl L. Clark, DOCS Director of Shock Incarceration and the Willard Drug Treatment Campus, said: "The success of Shock Incarceration is a testimony to the commitment of staff who have embraced the model over the years and demonstrate the core principles of responsibility, discipline, motivation and teamwork to inmates who volunteer. This is no easy task, and they have performed consistently for 20 years."