Inspector General's office creates new position to help oversee prisons
Brendan J. Lyons reports in the Times Union that New York's Inspector General Lucy Lang is creating a new position to coordinate investigations in prisons with the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. In 2021 about 60 percent of the complaints filed with the inspector general's office were related to the corrections department. "There is a tendency to respond to the complaints in front of us rather than looking at the whole universe," Lang said. "Given the working relationship, and given the internal talent, it seemed to me like there really was an opportunity to do something much bigger with our mandate to oversee corruption, fraud and abuse in DOCCS." In January Lang's office released a report that found drug tests in state prisons had been administered improperly, leading to the the potential improper discipline or extended sentences for roughly 1,600 inmates. Some of those inmates faced solitary confinement after improperly administered drug tests. There were "excessively punitive responses for people who it turns out, in fact, were not using drugs while they were incarcerated," Lang said. "That was the first investigation that I concluded when I came on as (inspector general). It reflected to me that ... we have actually a very strong working relationship with DOCCS, notwithstanding the fact that we are essentially their watchdog." The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision oversees 17,000 employees, at 52 detention facilities holding more than 30,000 incarcerated individuals, as well as overseeing the parole of more than 31,000 former inmates. "The appointment by the inspector general is expected to reinforce this historic working relationship, which has included regular information sharing, discussion of emerging issues and trends, and the promotion of best practices within the corrections system," the office said in a statement. Read more about this story in the Times Union.