Over the years, DOCS has implemented some measures that address staff sexual abuse.
Although the agency doesn’t currently have enough cameras to meet a proposed federal standard, it has been installing them. Since 1995 the department has spent more than $35 million on the implementation of these systems.
DOCS “currently conducts criminal background checks on all new hires (including contract employees and volunteers) and has established a link with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which informs DOCS if an agency employee is arrested for any type of crime for the duration of his/her employment with DOCS,” says a letter that DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer wrote the U.S. Department of Justice in May 2010. The letter also says, “DOCS presently provides each offender with an orientation concerning sexual abuse prevention upon admission to the system and upon every transfer to a new facility.” Fischer also pointed to the department’s Sex Crimes Unit, which consists of a deputy inspector general, an assistant deputy inspector general and 12 investigators who receive intensive training in investigative techniques.
But prison records indicate that many allegations never make it to the inspector general’s office. Prison officials at the seven prisons with women inmates recorded on so-called monthly staff-on-inmate inci- dent/threat summary forms a combined total of 534 allegations from June 2005 to December 2010. But according to these forms, the resolution of 78 of these allegations, or 15 percent, did not involve the prison officials’ reporting them to the inspector general. Reporting rates varied widely among facilities. Bayview reported at least 97 percent of its allegations; Willard only 27 percent.
(At left: An inmate looks out from Bayview.)