Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
David A. Paterson, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182
ejkriss@doccs.ny.gov
www.doccs.ny.gov

For immediate release:

November 6, 2008

Department of Correctional Services Plans Additional Consolidations as Part of Continuing Cost-Saving Efforts

The New York State Department of Correctional Services announced management actions today that will improve efficiency and reduce costs without impacting safety or security of the public or correctional facilities. The $8.7 million savings plan issued today is the second such plan issued by the Department of Correctional Services this year in response to Governor David A. Paterson’s call for all state agencies to closely scrutinize their operations and reduce spending in response to the state’s ongoing fiscal challenges.

Commissioner of Correctional Services Brian Fischer said the plan reflects savings achieved by consolidating housing units at 14 men’s medium and minimum security correctional facilities, merging two prison infirmaries into one, decommissioning prison farm operations, eliminating transportation of inmates among correctional facilities one day per week and minimal reassignment of staff to facilities with greater need. These initiatives anticipate a reduction of approximately 134 correction officer positions primarily by eliminating vacant positions, but also through attritions of approximately 44 positions.

The agency previously announced savings initiatives in September totaling $84.1 million for 2008-09. The newly announced actions will achieve savings of $8.7 million on a full annual basis. In total, both savings actions will result in a reduction of approximately 334 Correction Officer positions, or 1.7 percent of the Department’s approximately 19,600 Correction Officer positions. The inmate population has declined by more than 14 percent, from a high of 71,538 plus another 875 at the DOCS-operated Willard Drug Treatment Campus on December 12, 1999, to 61,032 and another 748 at Willard today.

The agency has an approximately $2.4 billion annual State operations budget and employs about 31,500 security, program, health, administrative and support staff.

Since he entered office, Governor Paterson has reduced spending levels at all state agencies under his control. To address deteriorating revenues caused by a weakening economy, he ordered state agencies to reduce spending by more than 10 percent from the Executive Budget proposed in January of this year. The Department of Correctional Services, along with the State Police, was partially exempted from its savings target to ensure that public safety is not compromised.

Commissioner Fischer said: “These management actions are part of our continuing effort to operate the Department more effectively and efficiently while continuing to deliver the core programs and services critical to preparing inmates for their return to the community. By consolidating our operations as our State’s prison population continues to decline, we are making better and smarter use of our resources and saving taxpayers money at a time when the State must find all the efficiencies it can.”

The additional housing unit consolidations are planned for 10 correctional facilities at which DOCS already consolidated other units earlier this fall: Adirondack (Essex County), Gowanda (Erie County), Hudson (Columbia County), Mid-State, Mohawk and Oneida (Oneida County), Ogdensburg (St. Lawrence County), Otisville (Orange County), Watertown (Jefferson County) and the Annex at Washington Correctional Facility in Washington County.

DOCS will also consolidate housing units at four additional correctional facilities: Mt. McGregor (Saratoga County), Camp Pharsalia (Chenango County) and the Monterey (Schuyler County) and Moriah (Essex County) Shock Incarceration Correctional Facilities. Combined, DOCS will vacate 18 housing units at the 14 correctional facilities, eliminate three of 13 inmate community work crews at Moriah, three of 18 inmate community work crews at Monterey and one of 11 inmate community work crews at Butler Correctional Facility (Wayne County), resulting in the elimination of approximately 90 already-vacant correction officer positions and saving State taxpayers about $4.5 million annually. In the first round of consolidations, DOCS vacated 28 housing units and eliminated 36 of 205 inmate community crews to save $10.2 million annually.

DOCS runs farm operations at a dozen of its 69 correctional facilities: Green Haven and Beacon (Dutchess County), Clinton (Clinton County), Eastern and Wallkill (Ulster County), Elmira (Chemung County), Greene (Greene County), Groveland (Livingston County), Sullivan (Sullivan County), Wyoming (Wyoming County), and Mid-State and Washington. The farms, which produce meat, milk and vegetables for the production of meals in the prison system, are intended to provide inmates with vocational experience. However, the farms have become increasingly costly to operate when viewed in light of the limited benefit they provide.

Beacon, Clinton and Washington run beef operations. Wallkill has a dairy farm. Elmira, Green Haven, Greene, Sullivan and Wyoming operate dairy farms and milk processing operations. Groveland grows field crops. Mid-State grows field crops and vegetables. And Eastern runs dairy, beef, beef processing and sawmill operations.

The farm operations employ 39 correction officers and 41 full-time civilian employees, and 188 inmates work on the farms. The correction officer jobs will be eliminated through attrition. DOCS will offer the civilian employees other jobs within the agency to the extent possible and will work with those employees and other State agencies to enhance the employees’ opportunities for transfer to other State jobs during the six- to eight-month decommissioning of the farms. The ultimate elimination of the prison farms will produce a net savings to DOCS of $3.4 million annually.

DOCS will work with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to assist in decommissioning the farms.

DOCS operates separate infirmaries at Coxsackie and Greene Correctional Facilities in Greene County. The two prisons are located next to each other at the same location, and DOCS will merge Greene’s 10-bed infirmary into Coxsackie’s 20-bed infirmary. While the overnight infirmary nurse position at Greene will remain, DOCS will achieve savings through the elimination by attrition of 5.1 correction officer positions responsible for supervising the Greene infirmary, saving approximately $260,000.

DOCS has merged infirmaries at adjacent prisons before, including Wallkill into Shawangunk, Bare Hill into Franklin, Marcy into Mid-State, Wyoming into Attica, Woodbourne into Sullivan, Washington into Great Meadow, Altona into Clinton, Collins into Gowanda, Livingston into Groveland and Ogdensburg into Riverview.

Eliminating one day per week of the current Monday through Friday transportation of inmates among correctional facilities will save $500,000. Inmates are moved from intake centers to their permanently assigned facilities after the Department receives them, to lower-security facilities as they progress toward the end of their sentences, and for programming, health, disciplinary and security reasons.

Details of the original DOCS savings actions can be found at:
http://www.budget.state.ny.us/pubs/archive/fy0809archive/enacted0809/spendingReductions/spendRedux_DOCS.html , and at:
http://www.doccs.ny.gov/PressRel/2008/BudgetReduction08.html