Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner (DOCCS)

DOCCS Contact: Peter K. Cutler, 518-457-8182 peter.cutler@doccs.ny.gov

Thursday, April 5, 2012

DOCCS REVIEWING ALL STAFF HOUSING, PROPERTY ASSETS

Closure of Seven DOCCS Facilities, Reassignment of Staff and Updated NYS Division of Budget Rental Rate Guidelines Highlight Department’s Annual Review Process

ALBANY - The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision today announced that its annual review of residential staff housing will focus on the impact of the reassignment of DOCCS staff that were reassigned late last year to new correctional facilities due to the closure of three medium-security and four minimum-security correctional facilities. In addition, the NYS Division of Budget on March 23rd distributed its updated B-300 Budget Policy and Reporting Manual that provides recommendations on living quarter rental rates and food rates. State agencies are required to submit an Annual Housing Review of every living quarter to DOB.

Two recent print features (Associated Press and The Auburn Citizen) contained information regarding this process, highlighting, among other things, the Department’s decision to sell the former Auburn Correctional Facility’s Superintendent’s residence and another DOCCS residential property located nearby.

"Every year, as required by DOB, DOCCS reviews all of its staff residential structures," said DOCCS Commissioner Brian Fischer. "We’re unique among most state agencies in that we have a large number of staff who work far from their homes. Given the nature of our work, it’s important to have suitable residential accommodations for our staff that require such housing and who work diligently to maintain the safety and security of our facilities and our communities."

There are currently 785 security staff residing in DOCCS residential facilities (includes correction officers, sergeants and lieutenants) and an additional 137 staff, including executive staff (e.g., superintendents, deputy superintendents) and civilians (e.g., counselors, nurses). The Department currently maintains a total of 841 housing units, 695 of which are occupied. In several instances, multiple individuals occupy a single unit, which would be a dormitory-like unit.

With respect to superintendents, out of the 60 facilities run by DOCCS (each with its own superintendent), five superintendents currently reside in structures officially designated as superintendent’s residences (Fishkill - on property, Attica - on property, Mohawk - across the street from facility, Elmira - one mile from facility and Sing Sing - two blocks from facility) and three other superintendents reside in state housing not designated as a superintendent’s residence. Eleven residences that are officially designated as superintendent’s residences are vacant and one of them, Auburn, as noted above is being listed for sale. An additional five designated superintendent residences are occupied by other staff and two remaining designated superintendent residences are used for other purposes (daycare center at Adirondack CF and a business office at Great Meadow CF).

In addition to the sale of the former Auburn Superintendent’s residence, DOCCS is looking at other vacant residences for similar action and five former residential structures (three associated with Attica CF and two with Clinton CF) are scheduled for demolition.

"We are looking at every aspect of our residential structures to determine the appropriate rental rates as recommended by DOB, but to also see if any of the structures could be put on the market and sold," said Commissioner Fischer. "Our challenge is that most of these structures, notably the current and former superintendent’s residences, are located either on or very close to existing prison property. So you have in some instances very attractive real estate, but they are hardly competitive with similar private residences in the market. This is a significant challenge for DOCCS, especially since we have to maintain the assets while they remain in our possession. As everyone knows, even a new home will start to deteriorate if left vacant for an extended period."

Commissioner Fischer has also directed staff to identify which residential structures are connected to any correctional facility’s utility grid. If structures are not connected to a facility’s utility grid, the occupants of such structures will be required to pay the monthly utility bills.

"As Governor Cuomo has directed all state agencies to reexamine their policies and procedures to function more efficiently and cost-effectively, this aspect of our review process will accurately determine what residential structures are connected or not to our facilities," said Commissioner Fischer. "For those structures that are connected to a facility’s utility grid, we’re considering a formula for residents of such structures that would establish an updated rental rate that is fair."

As a result of last year’s closure process, 1,427 of 1,706 affected DOCCS staff (including 1,016 of 1,115 security staff) were reassigned elsewhere in the Department’s system. DOCCS employs 29,300 staff who have an opportunity to transfer throughout a system made up of 60 correctional facilities across the State. The Department has traditionally provided access to limited housing for staff, allowing the Commissioner to leverage staff redeployment as an operational tool to better manage a safe and secure system.

Not only do the collective bargaining unit contracts between the state and the Department’s unions dictate where staff work based on seniority, but the DOB rental rate guidelines are established "pursuant to the collective bargaining agreements."

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is responsible for the care, custody and treatment of individuals sentenced to state prison and for working with them to ensure their successful re-entry into the community. The Department operates 60 correctional facilities (including the Willard Drug Treatment Campus and the Edgecombe Residential Drug Treatment facility) and oversees 38 community supervision (parole) field offices across the state. DOCCS currently provides care, custody and supervision of approximately 95,000 individuals:56,000 in custody in correctional and drug treatment facilities and 39,000 under post-release community supervision.

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