Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Inmate Sentence Calculation and Release Practices


Issued: April 07, 2017
Link to full audit report 2016-S-43

Purpose
To determine whether the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (Department) follows court orders, and its own policies and procedures, regarding inmate sentences to ensure accurate and consistent calculation of sentence times in accordance with all laws and regulations. The audit covered the period January 1, 2013 through October 21, 2016.

Background
The Department is required to comply with the relevant laws and regulations regarding the sentencing and incarceration of inmates in New York State, including Penal Law Section 70.30, which gives the Department the responsibility for calculating the terms of each inmate’s imprisonment. The staff within the Inmate Record Coordinator office at each facility are responsible for determining the inmates’ release dates, as well as any credits that reduce their sentence time. The Department held approximately 50,700 individuals in its custody at 54 State facilities as of August 27, 2016. During the period January 1, 2013 through September 15, 2016, there were 83,475 inmate releases from Department facilities. This total includes 13,628 inmates who were released multiple times while serving a sentence for the same original crime.

Key Findings

  • We found the Department has appropriate procedures in place to ensure that it accurately determines inmate release dates. Our tests of sentencing calculations for a sample of 60 inmates found proper procedures were followed in all the cases selected, and the sentences were accurately calculated. However, Department records showed that during our audit period five inmates were released between two weeks and 12 months early because Department procedures were not followed. The five errors represent an error rate of about one in every 17,000 inmates released during our audit period. Also, in all five cases, the Department detected the errors, and the inmates in question were returned to custody within 20 days.
  • Another four inmates were released up to seven months early due to inaccurate documentation provided to the Department by external agencies, such as courts or local jails. Since the Department is compelled to honor the terms of the orders and the local credits for time served it receives, the four errors were beyond its immediate control. However, we found the Department also identified the errors, notified the appropriate external agencies, and took prompt action to return the inmates to custody as soon as corrected documentation was received. Further, each of the four inmates was returned to the Department within 19 days.

Key Recommendations

  • None

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision: Oversight of Sex Offenders Subject to Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment (2014-S-50)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236