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DiNapoli: State Correction Commission Falling Short in Tracking Problems or Inspecting Prisons

The state agency in charge of the oversight and inspection of 561 state and local correctional facilities and jails across New York is not tracking or analyzing incidents and inmate complaints that may indicate problematic trends at those facilities, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Auditors also found the State Commission of Correction is also not routinely inspecting the state's 54 prisons.

"The State Commission of Correction is not adequately monitoring what's happening in our prisons," DiNapoli said. "The commission needs to improve its tracking of data and to identify patterns or trends that merit attention to protect the rights and safety of inmates and correctional staff. The new data system it is building falls far short of helping them identify problems and needs to be addressed. Commission officials say they plan to improve their agency's performance, and they must given the Executive's proposal to improve the safety of New York's correctional facilities."

DiNapoli's auditors found that the commission, comprised of three commissioners and 28 staff, largely devotes its resources toward oversight and inspection of local facilities.

The commission is also responsible for responding timely to inmate complaints and grievances, which often relate to issues of safety and operating conditions and medical care at state and local facilities. Over the three year period examined, the number of complaints received increased 16 percent to 2,316 in 2016, and grievances increased 69 percent to 2,932.

Auditors found that while the commission improved the timeliness of its responses to complaints and grievances during the audit period, its new management information system lacks the ability to produce reports on how complaints and inmate grievances are resolved and how long they have been in process.

For state Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS) facilities, the system does not include daily incident data, nor does it include information developed in the accreditation of these facilities from the American Correctional Association.

DiNapoli recommended the Correction Commission:

  • Implement a system to retain and analyze information for DOCCS correctional facilities, such as incidents, complaints, and other issues, to identify patterns or trends that may warrant monitoring or targeted reviews;
  • Monitor the DOCCS accreditation results to identify relevant information for its own oversight;
  • Monitor the scheduling of local lockup inspections to ensure they are scheduled and completed within three years;
  • Capture and analyze the data generated from complaints and inmate grievances to identify emerging issues and trends that need to be addressed; and
  • Use the analysis of complaint and inmate grievance data to identify ways to further improve the timeliness of responses.

Commission officials generally agreed with the audit's recommendations and have taken steps to implement them. The complete response is included in the final audit.

Read the report, or go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093018/sga-2018-17s2.pdf

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