Hudson Valley Jail Among ‘Worst’ in New York
A jail in the Hudson Valley is considered one of the worst jails in all of New York State.
The state’s Commission of Correction conducted extensive on-site inspections, interviews and investigations on a number of local facilities. Several were found out of compliance more than once, thus endangering the health and safety of inmates and staff members.
The Commission issued a report of five New York jails that were deemed “the worst offenders,” for being in violation of state law.
The Commission has issued numerous corrective action directives and provided staff to closely monitor and assist with the implementation of said corrective action plans. However, despite the Commission’s best efforts, some facilities still fail to meet minimum legal requirements for safe operation, officials say.
The five local facilities determined as “worst offenders,” were:
- Dutchess County Jail
- Greene County Jail
- New York City Rikers Island Facilities
- Erie County Holding Center/Correctional Facility
- Onondaga County Justice Center/Penitentiary.
“These facilities pose an ongoing risk to the health and safety of staff and inmates and, in instances, impose cruel and inhumane treatment of inmates in violation of their Constitutional rights,” the Commission said.
The Commission accuses the Dutchess County Jail of being very overcrowded, poor planning to deal with overcrowding issues which resulted in annual expenditures of millions of dollars to board overflow inmates to other county jails, not being compliant of religion and legal services policies.
During a 2017 evaluation the Commission found multiple policies and procedure violations at the Dutchess County Jail:
- Property Confiscation: Confiscated prisoner personal property was not kept in a safe and secure manner. It was found that the hallway door to the property room and the inner door were both unsecured allowing unauthorized access.
- Prisoner Personal Hygiene: Clothing: Female inmates were not being allowed to receive brassieres via packages, as required.
- Availability of Visits: The visitation schedule outlined in the inmate rulebook conflicted with actual practice.
- Contact Visits: The facility improperly implemented a blanket policy in inmates placed on constant supervision were only permitted non-contact visits with their families.
- Policy: the facility’s written policy and procedures on inmate classification do not reflect current practice, and in some instances, violates Minimum Standard regulations.
- Purchases: the facility improperly used commissary profits to purchase items/services that did not benefit the welfare and rehabilitation of inmates, as required.
- Audit: the facility could not demonstrate that periodic audits of the commissary program had been completed, as required.
- Exercise Periods: the facility was not providing lock-in inmates with the required amount of outdoor exercise on a daily basis.
- Searches: the facility was not searching outdoor exercise areas as required.
- Notary Public: the facility was improperly charging inmates for notary services and providing limited notary access to indigent inmates.
- Fire and Safety Inspections: the facility has not requested from the appropriate authority an annual fire inspection of the jail.
- Hazards: the facility was not addressing, in a timely manner, fire hazards identified during fire safety inspections.
The Commission reported the following "Significant Facility Incidents" at the Dutchess County Jail over the past year.
- Fire/Non-arson: 1
- Hospital Admission of Inmate: 100
- Individual Inmate Disturbance: 14
- Inmate Accidental Injury: 9
- Inmate Attempted Suicide: 9
- Inmate Self-Inflicted Injury: 6
- Inmate/Inmate Assault: 7
- Inmate/Personnel Assault: 7
- Inmate-Introduced Contraband: 9
- Major Disturbance: 1
- Major Maintenance/Service Disruption: 5
- Minor Disturbance: 5
- Personnel Accidental Injury: 1
- Personnel/Inmate Assault: 1
- Unknown Source-Introduced Contraband: 2
- Visitor-Introduced Contraband: 8