Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Alcantara v. Annucci

Supreme Court, Albany County

December 20, 2019

Richard Alcantara, Lester Classen, Jackson Metellus, Cesar Molina, Carlos Rivera and David Sotomayor, Plaintiffs,
v.
Anthony J. Annucci, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Tina M. Stanford, Commissioner, New York State Board of Parole, Defendants.

         Appearances:

          The Legal Aid Society Robert Newman, of Counsel Attorneys for Plaintiffs

          Willkie Farr & Gallagher llp Christopher J. McNamara, of Counsel Attorneys for Plaintiffs

          James Bogin, of Counsel Attorneys for Plaintiffs

          Letitia james New York State Office of the Attorney General

          Mark G. Mitchell, Assistant Attorney General, of Counsel Attorneys for New York State Defendants

          Denise A. Hartman Acting Supreme Court Justice.

         Plaintiffs commenced this proceeding against defendants Anthony J. Annucci, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), and Tina M. Stanford, Commissioner of the New York State Board of Parole (collectively, State defendants), claiming that they were illegally confined at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, designated a Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), beyond the six-month period prescribed by Penal Law § 70.45 (3); that DOCCS provided inadequate assistance in finding suitable post-release housing; and that the Fishkill RTF is not a community-based facility that provides programming and reintegration opportunities required by Correction Law § 73.

         In its decision and order dated February 24, 2017, this Court denied plaintiff's claims that DOCCS unlawfully detained them at the Fishkill RTF and provided them inadequate assistance in finding suitable post-release housing. But the Court held that plaintiffs raised material questions of fact regarding their claim that the Fishkill RTF is not community-based and does not offer programming and reintegration opportunities in compliance with Correction Law § 73. The Court also held that, while moot as to the named plaintiffs, the claim qualifies as an exception to the mootness doctrine. It converted the proceeding to a declaratory judgment action and allowed the remaining claim to proceed to discovery. [1]

         The parties have now completed discovery. According to plaintiffs, the State defendants produced thousands of pages of documents responsive to their interrogatories and document requests. And plaintiffs deposed thirteen current or former DOCCS employees, including offender rehabilitation counselors (ORCs), parole officers, program directors, and deputy commissioners. Plaintiffs Alcantara and Sotomayor were also deposed. On November 27, 2018, the Court of Appeals decided Matter of Gonzalez v Annucci, 32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461');">32 N.Y.3d 461 [2018]), which addressed and rejected a similar claim that the Woodbourne RTF failed to comply with statutes governing residential treatment facilities. Plaintiffs have filed a certificate of trial readiness.

         Now pending before the Court is the State defendants' motion for summary judgment, which plaintiffs oppose. The Court heard oral argument on the motion on September 25, 2019. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants the State defendants partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs have not shown that the conditions and program opportunities within the Fishkill RTF are non-compliant with the statute. However, after searching the record, the Court grants partial summary judgment to plaintiffs and declares that DOCCS is failing to provide for RTF parolees adequate community-based work and educational opportunities outside the Fishkill Correctional Facility environs as required by statute.

         Background

         Plaintiffs Richard Alcantara, David Sotomayor, Jackson Metellus, Cesar Molina, Carlos Rivera, and Lester Classon were convicted of sex offenses that resulted in determinate prison sentences followed by post-release supervision. After completing their determinate terms of imprisonment, they were detained in DOCCS's custody at the Fishkill RTF pursuant to Penal Law § 70.45 (3). Plaintiffs contend that while they were residents in the Fishkill RTF, they were treated as inmates in a prison-like setting, far from the communities where they intend to return; that they were not offered meaningful programming or work opportunities; and that their mandated programs merely repeated the classes offered in prison. They aver that RTF parolees are subject to the same institutional rules and disciplinary proceedings as inmates in general confinement, and share the same gym, exercise yard and mess hall. Plaintiffs assert that the only employment offered to RTF parolees is a "porter pool," where they can perform menial janitorial jobs and a limited ability to work at the Correctional Facility Storehouse. They claim they have no opportunities to participate in work assignments in a community setting.

         The State defendants counter that they are committed to providing education and training to RTF parolees, and they point to Directive No. 0051, which lists the programs available at the facility. Defendants assert that they offer RTF parolees work opportunities not available to inmates, where RTF parolees are paid $10 per day, a rate far higher than that paid to inmates. Specifically, they argue, RTF parolees are eligible to participate in a work assignment at the Correctional Facility Storehouse located outside the facility confines and are transported from the facility once each week to visit parole officers.

         Statutory Background

         The relevant statutes are as follows. Correction Law § 2 (6) defines "residential treatment facility" as:

"6. A correctional facility consisting of a community based residence in or near a community where employment, educational and training opportunities are readily available for persons who are on parole or conditional release and for persons who are or who will soon be eligible for release on parole who intend to reside in or near that community when released."

         And Correction Law § 73 (1), (2), and (3) provide:

"1. The commissioner may transfer any inmate of a correctional facility who is eligible for community supervision or who will become eligible for community supervision within six months after the date of transfer or who has one year or less remaining to be served under his or her sentence to a residential treatment facility and such person may be allowed to go outside the facility during reasonable and necessary hours to engage in any activity reasonably related to his or her rehabilitation and in accordance with the program established for him or her. While outside the facility he or she shall be at all times in the custody of the department and under its supervision."
"2. The department shall be responsible for securing appropriate education, on-the-job training and employment for inmates transferred to residential treatment facilities. The department also shall supervise such inmates during their participation in activities outside any such facility and at all times while they are outside any such facility."
"3. Programs directed toward the rehabilitation and total reintegration into the community of persons transferred to a residential treatment facility shall be established. Each inmate shall be assigned a specific program by the superintendent of the facility and a written ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.