Chapter 25: Department of Correction

Section 621.

Section 621. Department; commissioner.

There shall be a department of correction the head of which shall be the commissioner of correction.

Section 622.

Section 622. Deputies.

The commissioner may appoint two deputies.

Section 623.

Section 623. Powers of commissioner.

The commissioner shall have:

   1. Charge and management of all institutions of the city, including all hospital wards therein for the care and custody of felons, misdemeanants, all prisoners under arrest awaiting arraignment who require hospital care, including those requiring psychiatric observation or treatment and violators of ordinances or local laws and for the detention of witnesses who are unable to furnish security for their appearance in criminal proceedings, except such places for the detention of prisoners or persons charged with crime as are by law placed under the charge of some other agency.

   2. Sole power and authority concerning the care, custody and control of all court pens for the detention of prisoners while in the criminal courts of the city of New York, the family court of the state of New York within the city of New York, the supreme court in the counties of New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens and Richmond and of all vehicles employed in the transportation of prisoners who have been sentenced, are awaiting trial or are held for any other cause.

   3. Charge and management of persons or any other institution of the city placed under his jurisdiction by law.

   4. All authority, except as otherwise provided by law, concerning the care and custody of felons, misdemeanants and violators of local laws held in the institutions under his charge.

   5. All authority in relation to the custody and transportation of persons held for any cause in criminal proceedings and all prisoners under arrest awaiting arraignment who require hospital care, including those requiring psychiatric observation or treatment, in any county within the city.

   6. General supervision and responsibility for the planning and implementation of re-training, counseling and rehabilitative programs for felons, misdemeanants and violators of local laws who have been sentenced and are held in institutions under his charge.

Section 624.

Section 624. Cleaning and maintenance of buildings.

The commissioner shall maintain and operate buildings and structures under his jurisdiction. The commissioner may construct such additions and repairs to buildings under his jurisdiction as can be accomplished by the use of the labor of persons under his care and custody and with materials in the possession of the department.

Section 625.

Section 625. Labor of prisoners.

Every inmate of an institution under the authority of the commissioner shall be employed in some form of industry, in farming operations or other employment, and products thereof shall be utilized in the institutions under the commissioner or in any other agency. Those persons held for trial may be employed in the same manner as sentenced prisoners, provided they give their consent in writing. Such inmates or prisoners held for trial may be detailed by the commissioner to perform work or service on the grounds and buildings or on any public improvement under the charge of any other agency.

Section 626.

Section 626. Board of correction.

  1. There shall be a city board of correction to consist of nine members. Members shall be appointed for a term of six years. Vacancies shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term. Three members shall be appointed by the mayor, three by the council, and three by the mayor on the nomination jointly by the presiding justices of the appellate division of the supreme court for the first and second judicial departments. Appointments shall be made by the three respective appointing authorities on a rotating basis to fill any vacancy occurring on or after the effective date of this charter. Members of the board may be reimbursed for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. The chairman of the board shall be designated from time to time by the mayor from among its members. Members of the board may be removed by the mayor for cause and after a hearing at which they shall be entitled to representation by counsel.
  2. The board shall adopt rules to govern its own proceedings. The board may appoint an executive director to serve at its pleasure with such duties and responsibilities as the board may assign, and other professional, clerical, and support personnel within appropriations for such purpose. The commissioner shall designate such of the department’s stenographic, clerical and other assistance to the board as may be necessary for the proper performance of its functions. The commissioner may attend meetings of the board but shall not be a member of it.
  3. The board, or by written designation of the board, any member of it, the executive director, or other employee, shall have the following powers and duties:

   1. The inspection and visitation at any time of all institutions and facilities under the jurisdiction of the department;

   2. The inspection of all books, records, documents, and papers of the department;

   3. The preparation for submission to the mayor, the council, and the commissioner of proposals for capital planning and improvements; studies and reports concerned with the development of the department’s correctional program planning; and studies and reports in regard to methods of promoting closer cooperation of custodial, probation, and parole agencies of government and the courts; and

   4. The evaluation of departmental performance.

  1. The board, annually and at such other times as it may determine, shall submit to the mayor, the council, and the commissioner reports, findings and recommendations in regard to the matters within its jurisdiction.
  2. The board shall establish minimum standards for the care, custody, correction, treatment, supervision, and discipline of all persons held or confined under the jurisdiction of the department; and it shall promulgate such minimum standards in rules and regulations after giving the mayor and commissioner an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed standards, or amendments or additions to such standards.
  3. The board shall establish procedures for the hearing of grievances, complaints or requests for assistance (1) by or on behalf of any person held or confined under the jurisdiction of the department or (2) by any employee of the department. Starting July 1, 2021, the board shall issue a report, at least every three years, on issues related to the department’s grievance process. Such report shall incorporate direct feedback from incarcerated individuals and proposed recommendations for relevant improvements, and shall include a section of recommendations on how to improve the grievance process for vulnerable populations, including incarcerated individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming. Such report shall be submitted to the council and posted on the board’s website.
  4. Within the scope of its authority pursuant to this section, the board may compel the attendance of witnesses, require the production of books, accounts, papers and other evidence, administer oaths, examine persons, and conduct public or private hearings, studies and investigations. The board may institute proceedings in a court of appropriate jurisdiction to enforce its subpoena power and other authority pursuant to this section.
  5. The board, or by written designation, a member of the board or the executive director, may conduct hearings, or study or investigate any matter within the jurisdiction of the department, and the board may make recommendations and submit reports of its findings to the appropriate authorities.

Section 627.

Section 627. Council members authorized to visit correctional facilities.

Any council member is authorized to inspect and visit at any time the institutions and facilities under the jurisdiction of the department.