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NYC Department of Correction response to the NYC Board of Correction report on Lockdowns in Correction Facilities  

East Elmhurst, NY- Yesterday, the Board of Correction (BOC) published a report entitled “Recent Trends in Lockdowns in New York City Department of Correction Facilities.”

As the Department did not receive adequate time to provide feedback, the report was published with a number of inaccuracies:

  • BOC notes on page 3, in passing, that many lock-ins “lasted approximately five hours.” Tellingly, this means, on average, these individuals were out of cell nine hours a day. This is more out of cell time than many jurisdictions across the country, including Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.
  • BOC writes on page 4 that “despite reporting only three slashing/stabbing incidents [in September 2022] the rate of reported emergency lock-ins at RNDC was 300.5% higher than the Department-wide rate.” Notably, RNDC has the second highest concentration of our most dangerous population with 45% of those incarcerated there facing charges of murder, attempted murder, or felony assault. Lock-ins often occur after a disturbance in a facility in an effort to bring a housing unit under control.
  • In the section quoted above the use of the word “despite” suggests that the agency is locking in individuals even though violence is down. But this is incorrect. Lockdowns occur to quell violence. Oddly, BOC recognizes as much in the conclusion of the report, when it writes: “[t]he substantial reduction in violence the department has achieved at RNDC in 2022 has coincided with the Department’s…use of emergency lock-ins at RNDC during that same period.” DOC is proud of its reduction in violence, which is part of its Violence Reduction Plan (VRP) at RNDC. An increase in searches, which is part of the VRP, has resulted in over 4,400 weapons being discovered department-wide in CY 2022 through September, of which over 821 were discovered at RNDC. Lockdowns are a correctional tool which has contributed to this success.
  • BOC suggests on page 6 that individuals in RNDC are deprived of mandated services because of lockdowns. It cites no data to support this suggestion and the data belies it.
  • It is also noteworthy that lockdowns occur during and after Tactical Search Operations (TSOs) for weapons and drugs - a critical security measure - which the department reinstituted this year. Those searches have discovered dangerously sharp weapons and fentanyl and have made our facilities safer.

“When individuals who enter our custody are the most violent people in the community, it is likely that these individuals, who are often repeat offenders, will intensify their aggression when they are housed in our facilities, especially if they are gang affiliated,” said Correction Commissioner Louis A. Molina. “It is every correctional institution’s mission to maintain a safe environment for all staff and detainees, and the use of lockdowns is not to be punitive but to restore order and conduct searches, something that anyone with correctional experience is aware of, but which the report glosses over.”


About the New York City Department of Correction

The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities.