Senator Nozzolio Questions OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrion

 
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Public Hearing

Albany- At this week’s joint Senate-Assembly hearing on the State budget, New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio sharply criticized the Office of Children and Family Services and its Commissioner, Gladys Carrion, for mismanagement and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Senator Nozzolio was especially critical of  Commissioner Carrion’s decision to require OCFS counselors to reward juveniles serving time in OCFS facilities who have committed serious and violent crimes with a number of taxpayer-financed parties and other perks.

 



As a result of Senator Nozzolio’s questioning, Commissioner Carrion admitted that the most violent youth offenders- even those incarcerated for serious sexual assault and other violent crimes - have been allowed to participate in parties and other taxpayer sponsored social events, such as "prom nights", based solely on their current behavior at the OCFS facilities without any consideration for the severity of their crimes.  The Commissioner also admitted in her testimony that her office authorized the transport of individuals at great distances from outside the OCFS facilities, fully at taxpayers’ expense, to serve as "dates" for these juveniles.

“It is unconscionable to me that taxpayer dollars were used to reward repeat violent offenders with taxpayer parties where sex was not only allowed - it was facilitated by OCFS counselors,” said Senator Nozzolio.


An investigation by the New York State Commission of Correction was conducted last year in response to one such incident where sexual acts were committed at a “social” for prisoners at the Goshen Secure Center, which girls as young as 15 were brought in to attend. The Commission’s report concluded that “this event was orchestrated without any clear policy or procedural direction as to how it was to be organized, supervised and chaperoned, and without any appreciable security precautions or safeguards that would be the expected norm for contact social events involving violent offenders.”

When pressed for an explanation, Commissioner Carrion incredibly defended the use of taxpayer dollars for “prom nights” as a way to reward the juveniles currently serving time in OCFS facilities in New York State.


Senator Nozzolio has repeatedly called for the removal of Commissioner Carrion for her mismanagement of the OCFS facilities under her jurisdiction and authority. Senator Nozzolio cited the fact that the number of violent incidents against staff in the State's OCFS facilities has increased even as the number of juvenile offenders in these facilities has declined. As a result, workers’ compensation claims caused by assaults and acts of violence have increased by 42%.


“Clearly, Commissioner Carrion’s priorities are misguided.  She appears more concerned about coddling violent criminals than in protecting the safety and well being of  OCFS employees, and the law-abiding citizens and taxpayers of New York State,” said Senator Nozzolio.


Early release polices implemented by Commissioner Carrion have resulted in higher recidivism rates and deadly violence.  In June of 2009, Renee Greco, a youth counselor in Lockport, New York, was killed by Anthony Allen, who was discharged from OCFS supervision despite his violent history. Anthony Allen will stand trial this August for bludgeoning the 24-year-old to death.

“Commissioner Carrion’s reckless policies, poor leadership, and lack of oversight have endangered the lives of the men and women who work in the State’s OCFS facilities,” concluded Senator Nozzolio.