The NYS Prison System

The New York State prison system till this day continues to be one of the most popular prison systems in our country. New York State’s prison system consists of many different prisons and departments located all around the state of New York. New York State prisons have a lot of history throughout the years. The current commissioner of the correctional facilities that governs the prison system is Brian Fischer. Some notable prisons in the New York prison system are Sing Sing and Attica.

The New York prison system is one of the most known prison systems in the United States. It is currently the fourth largest prison system in the United States. According to the NYS Department of Correctional Services, the New York adult prison system currently houses and habilitates 62,500 inmates this number is good considering a drop of 9,000 inmates in the last eight years. The correctional service in New York employs over 31,300 employees including over 23,000 uniformed correctional officers in their system. New York currently has over 69 correctional facilities in the state. There are over 17 maximum security facilities, 37 medium security facilities, 13 minimum security facilities, 3 minimum security camp facilities and 1 drug treatment campus facility. The State of New York offers programs for their inmates stationed at various prisons. They offer such jobs as correctional industries, working on such jobs as manufacturing within the prison. These jobs include license plate shops, upholstery shops and printing plants. Other programs that NYS prisons offer are education programs in academics and vocational, guidance and counseling, substance abuse treatment services, temporary release programs and transitional service programs. (

Departmental Mission
The New York State Correctional System has many visions, goals, values and policies that apply to all of their prison and correctional facilities. The mission statement for the NYS Correctional Services is “Enhance public safety by providing appropriate treatment services, in safe and secure facilities, that address the needs of all inmates so they can return to their communities better prepared to lead successful and crime-free lives.”( The main vision in which the correctional facilities in NYS go by is “enhance public safety by having incarcerated persons return home less likely to revert to criminal behavior.”( The NYS Department of Correctional Services has many goals that it sets out to accomplish in operating its facilities. They want to “Create and maintain an atmosphere where both inmates and staff feel secure. Develop and implement positive individualized treatment plans for each inmate. Teach inmates the need for discipline and respect, and the importance of a mature understanding of a work ethic. Assist staff by providing the training and tools needed to perform their duties while enhancing their skills. Offer career development opportunities for all staff.” ( The NYS Department of Correctional Services also has values that they want to operate by like “Operate with ethical behavior. Recognize the value of each person. Protect human dignity. Offer leadership and support to all. Offer respect and structure at all times.” ( Certain policies that the Department of Correctional Services follows in NYS are “Offer opportunities for inmates to improve all their skills, and to receive individual treatment services, based on their ability and willingness to participate. Provide appropriate medical and psychiatric services necessary to those requiring such treatment so each inmate can maximize his/her own rehabilitation. Enhance positive relationships by providing opportunities for interaction between inmates and their families. Establish a structured environment that fosters respect through disciplined learning.” (

Brief History
The New York adult prison system has a lot of history behind it. The creation of the adult prison system in NYS dates all the way back to 1797 when Newgate Prison opened in Greenwich Village, 17 years later Auburn state prison was built being the second prison built. In 1825 Sing Sing was built on the Hudson River, just north of New York City and following this the creation of Clinton prison was formed. More and more prisons were built around New York due to the problem of crime and overcrowding. With these issues came into play the change of architecture of bigger prisons. Many new improvements followed thereafter.

“The major improvements in the construction of prisons were the introduction of escape-proof cells and unbreakable toilets and wash basins. This escalating process of constructing ever more secure prisons reached its pinnacle in 1931, when the most secure, escape-proof prison ever built opened in the little upstate village of Attica, New York. With such dedication poured into its construction, Attica was, at the time, the most expensive prison ever built. Construction had begun in 1929 and continued into the early years of the Depression. Over one hundred years had passed since inmates from Auburn had gone to work to build Sing Sing. In the spring of 1930, the scene was repeated; inmates from Auburn were transported to Attica to assist in construction.” (

In the later years prisons in NYS began to offer many programs to their inmates. “Effective January 1, 1971, the state’s complex of adult correctional facilities was reorganized as the Department of Correctional Services. Nine months later, the most severe prison riot in American history broke out at Attica Correctional Facility. A searching reexamination of correctional practices resulted in a heightened emphasis on educational and other rehabilitative programs including work release.” (

Training for Prison Officers in NYS
The first basic training for officers in NYS occurred in the 1930s on maximum security prison sites. “In 1936, the Department opened the Central Guard School for newly recruited officers at Wallkill Prison. Wartime restrictions and manpower shortages ended Guard School operations in 1942. It was not until 1965 that centralized recruit training was resumed, this time on the grounds of Matteawan State Hospital (now Fishkill Correctional Facility) in Beacon. The Beacon Academy offered a three-week training program for correction officers. In 1973, the DOCS leased the Mater Christi Seminary from the Diocese of Albany and established its current Training Academy there. The property was purchased by New York State in 1987.” (

Currently the academy annually gives out two million hours of professional training in lecture training and on hands training. (

I believe that the New York State prison system is a very complex system. From articles and research done throughout the writing of my paper I have found out that New York State prisons have always had a problem with overcrowding in their prisons. They have also been faced with problems of budgeting because of the issue of overcrowding. I think that New York State although being a fairly large state and having a fairly high crime rate should look into ways into making their prison systems more of a learning experience to their inmates. So far I think that they are doing a fairly good job in having resources available to their inmates. I think that that is the most important thing in the prison system especially in New York with their overcrowding. I think that the price of having an inmate be released into the world and then recidivate making them go through the whole process of being tried with the courts and then housing them in prison for another sentence, is more costly in my opinion than having programs for them to learn and counseling to make them a better individual to be released into the world again. New York in my opinion does a god job but you could always do better.

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Seiter, R. P. (2007). Corrections: An Introduction (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall.