By STANLEY JORDAN
New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott today released an investigative report that found chronic complacency, complicit employees and myriad failures of even the most basic security procedures at the Clinton Correctional Facility that led to the June 6, 2015 escape of convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt. The report details the actions, or lack thereof, of the inmates, prison staff, management and officials at the State Department of Corrections and Community Services (DOCCS) that contributed to the escape, and provides recommendations to prevent such an event from ever occurring again.
The report culminates an investigation that included sworn testimony from more than 170 witnesses and the review of tens of thousands of document pages. The investigation began shortly after the escape under the direction of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo “to conduct a thorough investigation to determine all factors potentially involved in the escape” and “recommend any potential reforms and best practices to prevent future incidents.”
Inspector General Leahy Scott’s investigation found the escape occurred in a prison where lapses in basic security functions were longstanding. These included the failure by officers assigned to the front gate to search employees’ bags entering the prison as required; night counts of inmates that were conducted negligently or not at all; inadequate cell searches; and poor supervision of inmates and employees by security staff and civilian managers in the prison tailor shop, among other factors. In sum, the investigation found that longstanding, systemic failures in management and oversight by DOCCS enabled two convicted murderers to meticulously orchestrate their escape from a maximum security facility almost in plain sight.
“The extent of complacency and failure to adhere to the most basic security standards uncovered by my investigation was egregious and inexcusable,” said Inspector General Leahy Scott. “These systemic deficiencies led to the escape of two convicted murders, striking fear in communities and placing brave law enforcement personnel at risk, at a high cost to the state. DOCCS has cooperated with my office to implement critical reforms. I will dedicate resources specifically to ensure the integrity of these reforms at Clinton, as well as ensuring adherence to best practices across all prison facilities in the State. I also look forward to continuing to work with DOCCS to ensure the implementation of policies and procedures in an effort to safeguard those who live or work in our prison system.”
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