Woodbourne Correctional Facility

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Woodbourne is a medium-security prison for men located in the town of Woodbourne, in Sullivan County New York, approximately 90 miles northwest of New York City. The Correctional Association’s Prison Visiting Project visited Woodbourne Correctional Facility on February 14, 2012.

Compared to other prisons the CA has visited, Woodbourne had:

  • lower reported levels of physical confrontations between staff and incarcerated people
  • higher rates with regard to feelings of safety by incarcerated people
  • a post-secondary educational program offering a very small percentage of the population an opportunity for higher education
  • favorable evaluations of its prison dental care

On the other hand, the Correctional Association found significant concerns regarding:

  • an overwhelming percentage of the population doing porter work — mostly menial labor that did not offer relevant post-release marketable skills or experience
  • a significantly older population, serving longer sentences, with very little programs or activities
  • limitations incurred by a shortage of physician and nursing staff, particularly given the older age of the prison population
  • A high percentage of parole denials

A major concern at Woodbourne is the plight of older incarcerated people, who languish behind prison walls in an environment designed for younger, healthier individuals. Compounding the problem of long-term confinement and repeated parole denials is the lack of vocational or educational programs specifically designed to address the needs and challenges presented by an older population. If older incarcerated people are not going to be released, the Department and State are obliged to create an environment that mentally and physically engages these people in activities that sustains their cognitive and physical well-being. In addition, higher rates of illness and impairments generally presented by an older incarcerated population poses medical challenges that call for more resources in order to ensure appropriate and humane care.

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