The Department of Correctional Services is mandated to operate safe and secure facilities in a humane and cost effective manner. Currently, the Department is responsible for confining and habilitating approximately 52,000 inmates at more than 60 correctional facilities throughout the State. The Department is responsible for confining these inmates at appropriate security levels, maintaining order through disciplinary action when necessary, and fulfilling the basic daily needs of inmates.
In 1983, the Department began an extensive expansion program to repair facilities and to open new facilities to meet the growing demand for additional inmate space largely resulting in the increase in drug related crimes. Included were major renovations to existing facilities, construction of modular facilities, use of temporary facilities, and establishment of a number of new corrections camps including shock incarceration camps for drug offenders. To help meet the demand for new prison space and to help ease inmate adjustment after release, the Department has also expanded inmate temporary release programs which include work and educational release, industrial training leave, and community services leave.
Education offerings available at correctional facilities have also expanded greatly in the past decade. The Department now offers a broad range of academic opportunities including high school equivalency programs, adult basic education, bilingual programs, and college credit programs. Volunteer programs have assisted in the expansion of academic programs and have focused on assistance in literacy, tutoring, pre- release preparation, and programs for inmates with special needs. Vocational education programs at facilities have also expanded to keep pace with new occupational skill requirements. Training programs are presently available in skills such as drafting, welding, carpentry, plumbing, optical and dental technology, and computer operation, programming, and repair.
The skills taught in vocational programs may be applied in the Department's increasingly important correctional industries program. During the past decade, correctional industries have been able to show a profit for the Department as well as providing manufacturing and industrial employment for thousands of inmates. Industries produce metalware, license plates, office furniture, mattresses, cleaning products, and other items.
Many other programs are offered at New York's correctional facilities to ensure secure confinement and to meet needs of inmates. New disciplinary procedures have been developed to address inmate grievances. Individual and group guidance and counseling programs have been expanded to address the emotional and behavioral needs of inmates in confinement and to assist with adjustment to life after release. Medical services have expanded to improve basic medical and dental services, hospital treatment, services for the physically disabled, and new facilities for AIDS treatment. In particular, drug and alcohol education and treatment programs have been created to meet the needs of the growing number of substance abuse victims in the system. Family oriented programs are continuing to grow, particularly those for family visitations, parenting education, and counseling on family violence.