TEXT OF RULE
The Department of Correctional Services repeals and reserves sections 51.15(k),
51.18 and 51.19 of 7NYCRR and amends Sections 8.3, 51.1, 51.2, 51.3, 51.4,
51.5, 51.7, 51.8, 51.12, 51.14, 51.15, 51.16, and 51.20 of 7 NYCRR as follows:
Section 8.3. News media.
Upon request by the news media, the following information from an inmate
record shall be made available
unless otherwise prohibited
by statute or regulation
: name, [age, ]date of birth, birthplace, [city]
place of previous residence, physical description,
commitment information, present facility in which housed, departmental actions
regarding confinement and release, and when related to a newsworthy event,
institutional work assignments, general state of health, and an occurrence
of death. Other information shall only be released to the news media[ in]
at the discretion of the commissioner or his
designee, giving consideration (a) to safety and security, (b) to the protection
of the privacy of the inmate and his right to a fair trial or retrial, and
(c) to the public's right to know, unless otherwise provided by statute or
regulation. News media shall make requests for information to the office
[director] of public information .[, or to the
superintendent of the appropriate correctional facility who shall consult
with the director of public information prior to responding to the request.]
Section 51.1. Divulgence of information.
Information relative to institutional or departmental affairs and individual
inmates must be authorized and given out by the commissioner
his or her designee
, [except that a warden may release items of current
news, ]provided the divulgence of such information does not tend to defeat
the ends of justice or adversely affect the interests of the department. Inquiries
addressed by persons outside the department to any employee concerning inmates
individually or in general, or offering employment to an inmate, or inquiring
about employment in the institution, or for any other information about the
institution or the department, shall not be answered by the employee but referred
to the superintendent [warden].
Section 51.2. Requests to photograph institutions.
Requests received by
]for permission to take photographs or make pictures, either still or motion,
of any correctional facility [institution]
or of any of the activities therein, shall be forwarded to the commissioner
or his or her designee. [When transmitting
such requests, the warden shall attach his recommendation for approval or
disapproval.] Such requests will not be approved where the pictures or photographs
are to be used for commercial purposes
the gathering of news
Section 51.3. Taking nonemployees to institution departments.
No employee shall be permitted to escort any person not employed by the department
to any of the institutional departments without first being directed by, or
having obtained the approval of, the
[warden or principal keeper].
Section 51.4. Control of visitors by employee.
An employee assigned to conduct visitors through the
[institution] shall require them to refrain from giving anything
to or receiving anything from inmates; from loud talking or boisterous conduct;
and from loitering along the way or separating themselves from the group or
Section 51.5. Restrictions on visitors.
Persons visiting institutions shall not be permitted to know the identity
of inmates or their past histories; nor to communicate with them; nor shall
they be permitted to handle tools, working materials, or other similar objects
or appurtenances. Exception to this rule shall be taken when visitors are
on official business, or have permission of the commissioner to proceed to
the contrary. Unless the exception to this rule applies, visitors shall be
taken only to such places as may be designated by the
Section 51.7. Entertainment fees prohibited.
No fee shall be collected, either directly or indirectly, for admission of
the public or inmates to athletic games and events, theatricals, or any other
type of entertainment held in the institutions. Approval of the commissioner
or his or her designee must be obtained by
the superintendent [warden] before the public
may be admitted [without charge ]to any program, exhibit or other activity
of an institution.
Superintendent [Warden] may
accept gifts and donations.
With the approval of the commissioner,
superintendent [warden] may accept gifts or
donations offered to the department or institutions by individuals or legitimate
organizations interested in the welfare and improvement of inmates, if the
nature of such gifts or donations makes it possible to use them for the general
welfare of the inmates, and if such donations do not in any manner obligate
the institution or the department to the donor.
Section 51.12. Information sources.
Superintendents of correctional facilities
have responsibility for release of information and response to
inquiries from news media representatives pertaining to their respective facilities
at the direction of the office of public information.
Information pertaining to overall departmental operations, policies, procedures,
etc., will be released or responded to through the office of public information
[affairs] in Albany, New York.
Section 51.14. Release of inmate data.
The release of records or information pertaining to individual inmates or
former inmates shall be provided to the
(i.e.; a representative of a newspaper, periodical,
news service, or radio and television network or station)
accordance with section 8.3 of this Title. No other information shall be provided
to the media [press] except as provided for
in the above section. [In cases involving inmates and former inmates facing
possible prosecution on new charges, details of past criminal history and
other information which might impair their rights to a fair trial will not
be released to the press.]
Media [Press ]interviews.
(a) Inmates confined in a facility under the Department of Correctional Services
of the State of New York have a limited constitutional right to be visited
and interviewed by representatives of the news media.
(b) Representatives of the news media have a qualified right to visit and
interview an inmate confined in a correctional facility who wishes to be
(c) Inmate Eligibility. [The superintendent
may permit a representative of a newspaper entitled to second class mailing
privileges, news magazine or other publication which would be entitled to
a place on the department's approved magazine list, news service, or radio
and television network or station, to interview an inmate in his custody.]
Inmates who are in general confinement status
may, at the discretion of the commissioner, receive face-to-face media interviews.
Inmates who are in administrative segregation status may, at the discretion
of the commissioner, substitute one media interview for their one non-legal
visit per week.
Inmates in pre-hearing confinement status or serving a disciplinary confinement
sanction, which includes disciplinary status special housing units and keeplock,
will not be approved for media interviews regardless of where they are housed.
(d) Such interviews shall be held at a time, place and under such conditions
as prescribed by the superintendent of the facility and convenient to the
operation and administration of the facility consistent with the safety and
(e) Arrangements for specific, individual interviews with inmates are to be
made through the office of public information.
[respective superintendents. The nature of the requested interview will be
made known to the superintendent.] Inmates will be advised of the request
for interview by the respective media source in writing
and if the inmate [individual ]approves, such
interview may be granted.
(f) Inmates whom a reporter desires to interview must be advised of such request
for an interview. Both the reporter seeking the interview and the inmate sought
to be interviewed may write[shall be given
an opportunity to be heard] in support of such request for interview.[via
(g) [All such] I[i]nterviews between representatives
of the news media and an inmate shall be supervised
[monitored]. But the security staff supervising
[persons monitoring] such interview shall
do so in
a manner that minimizes interference consistent with the safety, discipline
and orderly administration of the correctional facility
or interfere with the interview nor make comments thereon, except where specific
information may be requested by the news media representative.]
(h) The commissioner or his or her designee
[superintendent ]may refuse to permit such inmate - news media interview where
such interview presents a clear and present danger to the security, discipline
or orderly administration of the correctional facility or where the inmate
has clearly abused his right of access to the news media
prior conduct in violation of the Standards of Inmate Behavior, 7NYCRR 270.2B
a prior occasion].
(i) [Decisions of superintendents are not final. Where the request for an
interview is denied by the superintendent, both] T[t]he
inmate and the representative of the news media shall have the right to appeal
media [such ]denial s
to the c[C]ommissioner[of Correctional Services].
(j) An inmate who is interviewed by representatives of the news media shall
not be subjected to
departmental discipline or any
other adverse action for participating in the interview or for the views expressed
[reprisals, retribution or retaliation because of such interview
or for the views expressed therein.]
[(k) Inmates have a limited right to write letters to the news media or representatives
thereof. Such letters may be opened and read in accordance with departmental
Section 51.16. Use of names and photographs.
(a) [In the best interests of the inmate, ]
by name will not be allowed unless the individual agrees to such use and signs
a consent form
(reference NYSDOCS Directive #0401,
Page 7, “Media Interview Consent form that is available on the Department’s
website at, http://www.doccs.ny.gov/directives.html)
for such use
of name. Such consent [forms] form will be provided
by [both the interviewing news representative and ]the Department of Correctional
and is in addition to any consent form that
may be provided by the news media representative
. The consent form
signed by persons under 18 must be endorsed by a parent or guardian before
the use of name will be allowed.
(b) Identifiable photographs of inmates will not be allowed unless the individual
agrees to be photographed and signs a consent form for such photograph and
Such consent form will be provided by the
Department of Correctional Services and is in addition to any consent form
that may be provided by the news media representative.
of facilities will be allowed, providing no identifiable inmate is shown in
any of the photographs. Persons under 18 must have their consent form endorsed
by a parent or guardian before the use of a photograph will be permitted.
(c) A photographer accompanying a reporter need not be regularly employed
by the publication, station or news service, but he must be engaged by it
and specifically assigned as the official photographer. A photographer not
accompanied by a reporter must meet all of the criteria of a bona fide reporter.
Section 51.20. Emergency situations.
In situations of an emergency nature, such as escapes, disturbances, etc.,
the cooperation of the news media is requested in that inquiries and information
interviews be reasonably limited. The
officer or his or her designee
[superintendent of the facility where
such emergency occurs ]will issue periodic updating reports and will be available
for interviews as he /she deems necessary.[,][
timed for a.m. and p.m. press deadlines.] Emergency situations call for extensive
effort on the part of the entire agency [facility
staff and] .[,] W[w]hile
every effort will be made to keep information current, the emergency of the
situation must be respected and the cooperation of the news media will be
appreciated. When a correctional facility is placed under a "state of
news media access will be limited consistent
with the criteria established in section 3.20 of this title.
will not be allowed access to certain areas as designated by the superintendent.
Efforts will be made to provide secure areas from which photos may be taken.
] Approval and designated areas shall be at the discretion of the
or his or her designee.
[superintendent. If the superintendent judges
that the situation is extremely hazardous to news photographers, effort will
be made to provide official photographs as soon as available.]