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

For immediate release:

September 25, 2008

Department of Correctional Services Budget Reductions Will Maintain Safety and Security; Consolidations of Dormitories and Annexes Reflect Declining Prison Population

The New York State Department of Correctional Services today announced a plan to improve the efficiency of its operations without impacting public safety or security. The plan will achieve savings of $81.6 million and was put forward in response to Governor David A. Paterson’s call for all state agencies to closely scrutinize their operations and reduce spending by 3.35 percent in a difficult fiscal environment to help ensure a balanced state budget.

Commissioner of Correctional Services Brian Fischer announced dormitory consolidations at 17 medium and minimum security correctional facilities and a reduction of inmate community crews in addition to other efficiencies already in place that will allow the Department to reach the 3.35 percent savings goal and achieve a portion of the additional seven percent reduction the Governor called for on July 30. The Commissioner said further efficiencies will be detailed in the coming months.

In total, the initiatives announced today anticipate a reduction of about 1 percent of the Department’s correction officer positions - approximately 200 out of more than 19,600 - to be achieved through attrition and redeployment. 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 Dec. 12, 1999, to 61,339 and another 790 at Willard today.

The savings plan to achieve the 3.35 percent reductions reflects the following actions: Accessing previously unavailable federal funds for incarcerating illegal aliens ($23.6 million savings), shifting construction security costs to capital financing consistent with past practice and allowable capital financing ($24 million savings), reducing the number of inmate work crews that conduct community service projects by 36, which will leave 169 work crews in place ($2.4 million savings), reducing technology expansions ($5.6 million), and delaying centralized pharmacy automation ($1.8 million savings), among other actions. A full list of initiatives is posted at the Division of Budget website:

The plan also calls for delaying the hiring of civilian and security staff for specialized mental health treatment units at Green Haven and Marcy Correctional Facilities pending completion of construction and eliminating unfilled security positions for transporting inmates to court as required under the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act to reflect reductions in current needs and projected inmate population.

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.

In addition to the reduction in the number of inmate community work crews, which is expected to result in a reduction of 46 correction officers through attrition, DOCS will achieve additional savings beyond the requirements of the 3.35 percent plan primarily by consolidating dormitory populations at 17 medium and minimum security correctional facilities and within annexes to allow the Department to better manage valuable staff resources while still maintaining appropriate supervision over a shrinking prison population. Approximately 1,000 inmates will be moved to existing vacant beds that are part of already-approved dorm space where security staffing posts already exist. Most inmates will move within their current correctional facility and virtually all affected correction officers will move to other posts within their current facility. This action is expected to result in a reduction of 150 officers through attrition for full annual savings of $7.8 million.

The Department, which has an operating budget of $2.4 billion and employs approximately 31,500 security, program, health, administrative and support staff, anticipates minimal reassignment of staff to other correctional facilities.

Commissioner Fischer said: “These actions will allow the Department to respond to Governor Paterson’s call to reduce State operations spending while still delivering costly, mandated services for sex offenders and the growing number of inmates with mental illness, and prepare offenders for their return to the community while protecting our agency’s top priority: safety and security in and around our correctional facilities.”

Since November 2004, when the last significant consolidation to address a declining number of inmates was completed, the inmate population has dropped by another approximately 2,500, leaving numerous excess beds in medium and minimum security facilities. By filling under-capacity dorms and concentrating staff there, other dorms can be vacated, saving taxpayers money. No beds will be affected at maximum security facilities, where the inmate population has not declined.

The Department plans to consolidate dorms at the following men’s medium security facilities: Adirondack (Essex County), Collins (Erie), Gowanda (Erie), Groveland Annex (Livingston), Hudson (Columbia), Mid-Orange (Orange), Mohawk (Oneida), Ogdensburg (St. Lawrence), Oneida (Oneida), Otisville (Orange), Washington Annex (Washington) and Watertown (Jefferson), and at the men’s minimum security Butler (Wayne) and Camp McGregor (Saratoga) Correctional Facilities, a portion of the annex that is used for medium and minimum security general confinement inmates at Lakeview (Chautauqua) Correctional Facility, and the minimum security portion of Mid-State Correctional Facility (Oneida). The agency will also consolidate housing at the men’s medium security Fishkill Correctional Facility (Dutchess) by vacating 28 beds, or one floor, of an 84-bed Special Housing Unit area.

Additionally, the Department will reopen the 24-bed Special Housing Unit area at Groveland Correctional Facility by reassigning security staff now posted at the Groveland annex dorms that will be vacated.

Due to a constantly fluctuating inmate population and in accordance with attrition and staffing patterns, the Department may alter the plan going forward.

Inmate community crews will be reduced at the following men’s minimum security correctional facilities: Camp McGregor, Camp Gabriels (Franklin County), Camp Georgetown (Madison), Camp Pharsalia (Chenango), Mid-State and Groveland Annex, as well as Mid-Orange. Crews will be eliminated at Gowanda and Otisville.

Commissioner Fischer outlined the plan today for union leaders and the superintendents of each of the Department’s 70 correctional institutions across the State. He instructed the superintendents of affected medium and minimum security facilities to immediately identify the most sensible locations for dorm consolidations and community crew reductions within their respective prisons in conjunction with approval from Central Office.