The need for oversight of prisons is as urgent today as it was 175 years ago


CANY is the only independent organization in New York with authority under state law to monitor prisons. Our access creates a platform for those most affected by incarceration to shape the public debate.


Featured Work



Women's report graphic.png

Women in New York prisons have histories of trauma and violence, profound physical and mental health needs, and experience significant challenges while incarcerated. Read more.


The number of people incarcerated in New York is declining, but those in prison are staying for much longer periods of time. Read more.


On an average day, around 2,600 people are in solitary confinement in New York’s prisons. Read more.


A significant portion of those eligible for parole are being denied – some multiple times. Read more.


The Enduring Legacy of Attica

The 1971 uprising continues to influence efforts to transform prison. Watch the conversation with Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water.




Today, 48,000 people are incarcerated in New York's 54 prisons – the sixth largest prison system in the country. Our work is informed by the experiences of people in prison – focused on dignity, health, and legitimacy.


Who we are

CANY plays a critical and unique role in criminal justice reform. We provide independent oversight of New York’s prisons by conducting in-person monitoring visits, during which we speak extensively with incarcerated people and corrections staff, and by confidentially communicating with incarcerated people about their experiences through the mail, one-on-one interviews, and collect phone calls.

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What we are working toward

We urge the public to fundamentally rethink the nature and purpose of incarceration. In our vision for the future, the criminal justice system no longer targets African Americans and other people of color through mass incarceration. Far fewer people are incarcerated and for shorter periods of time. Read more about our vision here.

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How we get there

Our goal is to use our unique access to promote true transparency and accountability. We create a platform for those most affected to directly share their experiences; we document and disseminate information about system trends; and we advocate for reform  at individual prisons and at the system level. 

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Our strategic focus

Our oversight pays close attention to the issues people in prison report to us.

Specifically, we are currently conducting projects on:

  • Dignity: The arbitrary over-denial of parole applications, which is keeping thousands of people in prison beyond their minimum sentences.

  • Legitimacy: The pervasive misuse of isolation and lock-up throughout prisons, including but extending beyond the use of solitary confinement

  • Health: Acute needs and barriers to effective care