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Latest brawl puts N.Y. prison in lockdown; DOCCS threatens more aggressive action

The latest reports of violent incidents at Clinton Correctional follow a milestone in assaults against correctional officers


A CO stands on the wall of Clinton Correctional Facility on Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Dannemora, N.Y.

AP Photo/Mike Groll

By Fernando Alba
The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

DANNEMORA, N.Y. — Clinton Correctional Facility was placed on lockdown Wednesday following a fight that broke out among inmates in the facility’s north yard, union officials said.

The fight, which numbered about two dozen inmates, follows reports of similar incidents occurring in the prison earlier this week.

Multiple Correctional Emergency Response Teams responded to Clinton Correctional following Wednesday’s fights.

As of Wednesday afternoon, it is unclear what injuries were sustained or if any weapons were used in the brawl.


In November, New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision sent a warning to inmates amid rising violence in state prisons.

“While there has always been the occasional very troubling incident, the trend I am seeing of late, in terms of sheer savagery of the assault, the randomness of the assault, and the lack of any precipitating event before the assault, is extremely disturbing. This will not be tolerated,” Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci wrote in his Nov. 22 memo.

Annuci warned violent offenses in a state facility would lead to prosecution and the possibility of additional determinate imprisonment sentences.

“Make no mistake about it. The Department will do everything within its power to keep everyone safe from assault, regardless of whether the person is an employee, other incarcerated individual, volunteer, visitor or contractor,” he said.

According to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, 991 assaults on inmates have been recorded so far in 2021.


The latest reports of violent incidents at Clinton Correctional follow a milestone in assaults against correctional officers.

As of Sunday, 1,067 inmate-on-staff assaults were reported in state facilities, a record-breaking number that supersedes last year’s total of 1,053, according to the union representing state correctional officers. The number of assaults on staff in 2021 more than doubles the total from 10 years ago, which was 528.

“While the numbers are certainly upsetting, they are not surprising as our organization has been relentless in raising awareness on this issue for years,” Michael Powers, New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association president said in a statement.

“For the number of attacks on staff to double over the past 10 years while the inmate population is at its lowest point since the early 80s is appalling and is a direct result of the progressive policies implemented by the State.”

“Given the recent admission by the Department of these unprovoked attacks, we need the State to act now to protect staff before another officer suffers from this unrelenting violence,” Powers continued.


Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) a former correction officer, said the increase in violence inside prisons needs to be strongly addressed.

“With the deterioration of the disciplinary system inside the correctional facilities, there is a direct correlation to the uptick in violence,” Jones said, adding that means there are more violent episodes against staff.

In its ongoing effort to reduce the number of incidents in state facilities, DOCCS said it has implemented policies and provided additional equipment.

“DOCCS has invested millions of dollars in the installation of fixed camera systems and microphones, as well as body-worn cameras in selected facilities,” a DOCCS spokesperson said.

De-escalation tactics training for security staff and a pepper-spray program was also implemented, DOCCS said.

(c)2021 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)