Merger of Department of Correctional Services and Division of Parole
To improve public safety by providing a continuity of appropriate treatment services in safe and secure facilities where offenders’ needs are addressed and they are prepared for release, followed by supportive services under community supervision to facilitate a successful completion of their sentence.
- Enacted by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and the Division of Parole (DOP) have been merged to form the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).
- As envisioned by Governor Cuomo, this merger will streamline departmental functions, eliminate duplication of effort, achieve better outcomes for more offenders and enhance public safety, while simultaneously reducing expenditures and saving taxpayer dollars.
- A primary goal of the new agency will be to create a more seamless, more comprehensive operation through a continuum of care from the moment an offender enters the correctional system until he or she successfully completes the required period of community supervision.
- The Parole Board will continue as an independent body, with Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and the Board’s Counsel’s Office answering directly to the Parole Board.
- The Parole Board will maintain its existing functions (e.g., release decisions, set conditions, etc).
- The Parole Board, with a membership of up to 19 members will continue to be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate; they will not be hired by the Commissioner of DOCCS and will continue to be led by an appointed Chairperson.
Changing Role of Parole and Corrections
Starting in 1995, the Legislature authorized determinate sentences for repeat violent felons and later for all violent offenders. In 2005, the use of determinate sentences was further expanded to include drug offenders and in 2007 was expanded again to include most sex offenders. Beginning in 1998, Community Supervision (Field Parole) was made a mandatory requirement of all offenders released under a determinate sentence.
DOCS and Parole have historically worked collaboratively on many fronts, such as the Willard Drug Treatment Campus, the Edgecombe Residential Treatment Facility, working with county re-entry taskforces, assisting offenders with Medicaid applications upon release, providing voter information to released offenders, and assisting in post release placement in treatment programs as appropriate.
Functions of New Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
- The new agency’s function is to ensure the appropriate care, custody, treatment and supervision of the individual, whether in a facility or in the community.
- The merged agency’s organizational chart will place the functions of community supervision directly under a Deputy Commissioner reporting to the Commissioner.
- Functions of the Parole Board will be apart from the DOCCS organizational structure, but supported by the full agency.
- By statute, DOCCS is required to implement an offender Transition Accountability plan that includes an integrated team case management plan based on a research based risk assessment tool.
- DOCCS will consist of two operational components – the Parole Board and non-Parole Board activities.
- Both components are designed to provide all appropriate services for all offenders, from entry to release, and from release through discharge.
- Parole eligibility criteria do not change, nor the manner in which Parole Boards meet and review cases.
- The Parole Board’s autonomy in their decision making is specifically preserved in statute.
- DOCCS staff will continue to provide information and assistance to the Parole Board, such as preparing the documents for an offender’s Parole Board hearing.
- The Parole Board retains authority to conduct victim impact interviews and retains authority over release decisions for indeterminate sentences and medical parole.
- There is no change in the ability of an offender to be seen by the Parole Board or to challenge the decision of the Parole Board.
- There will be no change in the Board’s role in setting an offender’s release conditions.
- Appeals of the Board’s decisions, following a release denial, will continue to be handled by Board’s Counsel’s Office who serve and are appointed by the Board.
- The preliminary hearing officers and ALJs who perform revocation hearings will become employees of DOCCS; however, they will be hired by and report to the Board.
- All existing due process protections will remain in place.
- All administrative appeals relating to revocations decisions and any litigation commenced as a result of the revocation will be handled by the Board’s Counsel’s Office.
- There are no substantive changes in the procedures by which parole violators will be re-released from prison after serving their time assessment.
Offender Discharge Process:
The Legislature has enacted laws that allow certain parolees to be discharged from further community supervision after certain periods of good behavior.
- The Parole Board will continue to review and decide three-year discharge applications from parole supervision for offenders serving indeterminate sentences.
- The Parole Board will assume the responsibility to review and decide the granting of five-year discharges from supervision for sex offenders who are serving determinate sentences.
- DOCCS will assume the responsibility for granting merit terminations from presumptive release, parole, conditional release and release to post-release supervision for certain non-violent offenses.
- DOCCS will also assume mandatory and discretionary terminations of sentences for certain drug offenders.
- DOCCS will assume the responsibility for issuing certificates of relief and certificates of good conduct.
Other Programs & Processes
- Clemency requests will continue to be reviewed in accordance with all past policies and procedures.
- Interstate transfers will continue to be managed in accordance with all established policies and procedures.
- Re-entry will be expanded to better incorporate services previously provided separately by DOCS and Parole.
The merger of DOCS and Parole into the new Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will provide an estimated savings of $17 million in FY2011-12.
State of New York
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
1220 Washington Avenue
State Campus, Building 2
Albany, NY 12226-2050
Brian Fischer, Commissioner