Top 4 Failures: Escape from Clinton Correctional

Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y.

DANNEMORA , N.Y. (WIVB)- Almost one year after Richard Matt was shot and killed by police and David Sweat was captured, the state is pointing the finger at the Department of Corrections.

New York’s Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott published a 150-page report detailing how DOCCS failures led to the manhunt.

The report is very detailed, so News 4 broke down the top four failures the Inspector General noted.

Photo courtesy of the Inspector General's Office. It shows lack of visual from a security tower of the manhole cover Sweat and Matt escaped from
Photo courtesy of the Inspector General’s Office. It shows lack of visual from a security tower of the manhole cover Sweat and Matt escaped from

1. Security

  • Matt was able to bypass metal detectors when smuggling in hacksaw blades from the tailor shop into his cell
  • Towers did not have a clear view of the manhole cover Sweat and Matt used to escape. Tower one has been unmanned since 1994, and it’s view of the manhole cover was blocked by buildings and trees. Tower two’s view of the manhole was also blocked by trees.
  • Mitchell was able to smuggle hacksaw blades and other tools to the inmates. Her bag was never checked.
  • Tunnel Inspections were de-emphasized in 1995

2. Improper Training

  • Certain staff unaware of procedures when it comes to night counts, according to testimony
  • “Although newly promoted sergeants, lieutenants, and captains are required to complete academy training, records reveal many promoted officers do not do so until well after assuming their new duties,” the report stated.

3. Staff Laziness

  • Cell searches were done infrequently, or hastily
  • Poor supervision at the tailor shop, testimonies show officer is charge was often just reading
  • Front gate and night count searches not done diligently

4. Cover Ups

  • There was wide knowledge of Mitchell’s relationship with Sweat and Matt prior to their escape, many staff members did not come forward
  • Feb, 2015 Office of Special Investigations failed to interview relevant witnesses regarding their relationship

Western Region VP for the CO’s Union NYSCOPBA, Joe Miano, told News 4 low staffing is partly to blame for security lapses.

“They’re more focused on other avenues of the job, other than what is what is the most important, as far as security,” Miano said.

The way to fix that he said, is simple: add staff.

“We have the right number of corrections officers, and we work on this every year when we do the state budget,” Gov. Cuomo said.

He told the media adding more officers would cost too much.

Leahy Scott noted “a culture of complacency” within the DOCCS and within Clinton Correctional.

Miano told News 4 that’s an exaggeration.

A dummy used to fool corrections officers checking Sweat's cell
A dummy used to fool corrections officers checking Sweat’s cell

“It’s not statewide. 99 percent of our officers go to work everyday and do it the way they’re supposed to,” he said.

Miano said adding more officers who are solely dedicated to searching would improve safety for inmates and staff. He agrees with Leahy Scott that more training needs to be provided to COs.

“The officers that are coming through the Academy, aren’t given a lot of hands on training in proper searches and searching techniques,” he said.

Click here to see the full PDF version of the report

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