Nolan, Glick, and O'Donnell Sponsor Symposium on the Implementation of the Dignity for All Students Act

The Assembly Standing Committee on Correction held a public hearing to assess current and potential oversight of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). This hearing is especially pertinent in light of the events surrounding the June 2015 prisoner escape from Clinton Correctional Facility (CCF) and the national call for a re-evaluation of the U.S. Prison system.

Today's hearing included testimony from experts on New York's prison system, authorities on different types of autonomous corrections oversight models, and family members of inmates who have suffered abuses. The hearing was adjourned to a future date pending the release of the Inspector General's report on the Clinton escape. Several Assembly Members in attendance shared the following thoughts on the discussion of the hearing:

It's been a very problematic year for New York State prisons. Today's hearing made several things clear: Oversight is critical for everyone involved in the correctional system, the current oversight is not sufficient, and New York could benefit from using another model of oversight. Luckily, there are many good models out there, as demonstrated by the testimony given today. I look forward to reconvening this hearing soon with the participation of DOCCS and the findings from the Inspector General's investigation," said Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell (Chair, Committee on Correction). He continued, "The common themes throughout the witnesses' testimony show that an independent entity with investigatory and prosecutorial powers is necessary to ensure the safety of staff and inmates as well as the integrity of the Department. This independent entity, still to be defined, would act as a place to submit grievances and increase the transparency and accountability within the prison system for all New Yorkers."

I'm glad we had the hearing today. Unfortunately the major focus of the escape from Clinton Correctional Facility was not addressed because the Inspector General's report has not been released. I'm hoping for a fair, credible, and imminent report. I was impressed with today's testimony, particularly with the idea of an Ombudsman. We will need to discuss and consider if this model will work for New York State," said Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (Minority Member, Committee on Correction, Representing the area where the CCF is located).

Prison administrative officials need to recognize that public oversight is the only way to ensure that New York's prisons run effectively for both staff and inmates. Today's hearing puts into perspective that in light of this summer's events, security and safety should be a top priority," said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (Member, Committee on Correction).