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State used prison administrators as scapegoats

August 13, 2015
Lake Placid News

To the editor:

I normally am not a letter writer, but I feel I have to say something on behalf of those dedicated employees at Clinton Correctional Facility who were thrown under the bus as scapegoats for the recent escape from the prison.

I am retired from the DOCCS (state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision) and have worked with at least three of those who have been victimized by the state, for which they had given many years of dedicated service. I have worked with and for Steve Racette, Don Quinn and Steve Brown. They are all very competent, loyal, experienced and dedicated people. It seems strange and unfair to me that these individuals were singled out just to show that Albany was on top of things, at the expense of their careers and livelihoods. It is well known that the executive team headed by Steve Racette was making great changes at the facility and was getting a very poor staff morale back on track after years of decline.

A few weeks prior to the escape, there was an inmate uprising in the big yard, and it is normal and prudent to lock down and do a facility frisk in the name of safety to find any contraband and weapons that could be used in any escalation or reoccurrence of the disturbance. When the executive team contacted the powers in Albany for what should have been a "no brainer," to proceed with the lockdown, their request was denied, most likely because of the overtime that would have resulted. If that request had been approved, it is most certain that the frisk would have turned up the escape holes cut in the walls in the cells of Matt and Sweat and would have thwarted the escape. I really think that whoever that decision maker in Albany is should be fired or demoted because he is more responsible for the escape than are the good people who were working inside the walls. I think that most of the responsibility for the escape should be attributed to the incompetence in Albany.

If justice is to be served, it should be served equally by all who hold the responsibility, not just a few hand picked by those in Albany who are responsible.

Ben Cross

Lake Placid



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