View Full Version : Summit Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility


Manzanita
10-07-2004, 09:05 PM
Summit Shock Incarceration C.F.
137 Eagle Heights Road
Summit, NY 12175

(518) 287-1721 (Schoharie County)

Minimum Male

Visitation Hours: 9am to 3 pm, Sunday for shock, Saturday visits for general population

Visiting Rules:FOR SHOCK INMATES. 3 adults and 2 lap children at a time, one switch over if needed for more visitors. One kiss and hug at the beginning of the visit and at the end. Holding hands only during the visit. There is general population inmates there but I'm not sure if the rules are the same for them.

Visiting Room: you are assigned a table, the inmate has an assigned chair at the table. They have a change machine there it gives you dollar coins, which is not good for the candy machine. So bring quarters or dollar bills for the candy machine.

Lodging:

Prison Web Site:

Prison Picture:

FRP available: No FRPS

Number of prisoners:

General Information: The Shock inmates are only allowed to used the phones on the Sunday's they don't have a visit for 10 minutes (I believe). Letter and cards only for shock inmates no packages. Money can be sent in only, not left during a visit.

Summit
The thing about Summit is its focus. It cannot be escaped and will not be ignored. It is everywhere, in every thing. As Insistent as a jackhammer, tireless as a waterfall and irresistible as gravity, Summit's focus is a spirit that swoops over and through the facility and back again. It radiates from every staff member and every inmate. You see it on the sign-covered barracks walls; you hear it in the echoes of tramping boots and chanted march cadences.

It's been here since 1988, when Summit converted to Shock Incarceration, DOCS' version of the popular correctional boot camp program. Shock is a tightly controlled program of physical and mental activity whose goal is the ancient Greek ideal of "a sound mind in a sound body." All of Shock's interwoven program threads (military drill and discipline, public service, ASAT and therapeutic Community activity) along with the totality of the program delivery machinery (the people, the schedule, the environment) are focused like a laser beam on the themes of responsibility and change.

Tradition of public service

One of the program components, public service, has been a characteristic of Summit for 40 years.

This small, minimum-security 'institution 45 miles west of Albany was created in 1961 for the express purpose of putting inmates to work in state forests and parks in a partnership with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC is still a major "client," but Summit's constituency of Service recipients has broadened considerably over the years.

Since the 1970's, community service crews have assisted municipal governments and not-for-profit organizations such as churches and little leagues. For about the last seven years, other crews of inmates have performed grounds and janitorial work on state properties in Albany including the Governor's mansion, the Legislative Office Building, the Harriman State Office Building Campus and the DOCS Training Academy.

Prison inmates were not always engaged in public service. Early in the development of New York's correctional system, inmates from Auburn helped dig the Erie Canal, but this amounted to a false start. It would be many years before they were again permitted to work for the public good. For most of the l9th century, New York's inmates were factory workers, producing a wide variety of goods for sale on the open market. After decades of bitter protest by private sector manufacturers who claimed they could not compete against cheap prison labor, an 1894 amendment to the state constitution prohibited the sale of prisoner-made goods to private parties.

Now barred from the open market and permitted to sell only to government agencies, prison Industries retrenched. Faced wit the specter of inmate idleness, the Elmira Reformatory organized its inmates into military squads who drilled for hours with wooden dummy rifles. The upheaval of the prison economic system also prompted wardens to revisit the idea of public service, forgotten since the Erie Canal days. From approximately 1910 into the 1930's, trustworthy prisoners were housed in "cantonments" many miles distant from the prisons in order to work on public roads; other prisoners were assigned to conservation projects with the Department of Conservation.

Budget cutbacks during the Great Depression eliminated the cantonments, but 20 years later, new circumstances - the deterioration of the vast forest lands acquired by the state during the Depression, as well as a national concern over the growing problem of juvenile delinquency - led New York to revive the public service effort. The state Department of Correction and state Department of Conservation entered into an agreement to operate "youth rehabilitation facilities" on state forest lands.

Camp Summit: creation and growth

Schoharie County was the preferred site for the state's first forestry camp, but local opposition was so fierce that the plan was tabled. Instead, Chenango County - about 60 miles to the west - was selected, and Camp Pharsalia opened in 1956. Two years later, Camp Monterey opened in Schuyler County. In the meantime, corrections and DEC officials labored to calm the nerves of jittery Schoharie County residents. Armed with a promotional film narrated (or so goes the legend) by up-and-coming television news reporter Chet Huntley, officials went on the lecture circuit. They eventually convinced Schoharians, first, that the carefully selected inmates sent to the camp posed no threat and, second, that the camp work program would benefit both the environment and the local economy.

With the public won over, a site was found in the town of Summit (population 978, elevation 2,400 feet according to the sign on Route 10). It must have looked, to the seven inmates who arrived there on January 9,1961, like Siberia. They found themselves on a barren clearing high atop a windswept hill. To the east, at the bottom of the sloping campground, was a pond; to the north, a marshy bog; and beyond, in every direction, an endless stretch of snow and pines.

In the clearing were three cinderblock and wood buildings erected by contractors the preceding summer. A long, narrow building was to serve as a catchall: offices, staff housing, visiting and recreation rooms and a temporary chapel. Two smaller structures on the same design were built a short distance behind and downhill from the administration building. One would be the dormitory for 100 campmen, the other would hold the mess hall, kitchen and boiler room.

The camp grew as the program evolved and the inmate population increased (from 100 initially to 250 today). Much of the growth took place away from the main complex of administration, dorm and mess hall. In the first years, at the lower end of the grounds, campmen including transfers from the masonry class at the New York State Vocational institute (Coxsackie) laid blocks for a garage and vocational shop building. On the uphill side, they put up a chapel and several DEC buildings (a drying shed for logs, a lumber treating plant and a sawmill). The administration building was lengthened by attaching a trailer that had been part of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Village.

Summit's only two-story structure (with offices, a staff fitness room and a combination visiting room and classroom) was erected in 1987; the next year a program building was placed against the hill behind the administration building. The last major construction came in 1991, when a new dormitory on the cookie-cutter design was built up the hill and on the other side of the softball field. (For several years after it opened, Camp Summit had a team in the Schoharie County Softball League - it had the distinction of never playing an away game.)

But the most intriguing building activity went on behind the original dormitory and the mess hall and kitchen building. A series of curious add-ons - spontaneous mutations - would render unrecognizable the plain, straightforward design of 1961. it began in 1965 with the construction of a half-court gymnasium connected to the dorm by a covered walkway. In 1977, a second dormitory building ("Dorm 2" or Building 17) was constructed behind the mess hall. Jutting out from Dorm 2 was a corridor that not only served as cover from Summit's winter winds but also represented a major structural change. The corridor extended into and filled the space between the mess hall and the original dormitory, transforming the two formerly separate structures into a single entity twice the length of the administration building. Ten years later, in 1987, a new laundry and shower building was constructed between the gym and Dorm 2. It, too, had a corridor, but it led not to a building but into another corridor (the one off Dorm 2).

Thus, piece by unplanned piece, two very ordinary buildings grew to an elongated hall with doors opening into one large room after another all along its 500-foot length. At the back, a jigsaw of sharp-cornered, narrow corridors open into other rooms living quarters and gym and laundry and state shop.

After 27 successful years as a forestry camp, Summit closed down in February, 1988. Over the next few weeks, staff received Shock training. Some rehabilitation was done to increase the population from 160 to 200 inmates and the buildings were repainted from "EnCon green and brown" to white with blue trim.

Boot camps inspire Shock Incarceration program

In the early 1980's, "boot camps" for criminal offenders first appeared in southern states. They were modeled on the military boot camp, a rigorous program of discipline and physical conditioning that typically serves as basic training. The model would seem to be a natural for corrections, as it is almost a matter of faith that the grueling boot camp experience builds character and maturity. Rebellious youths learn obedience to lawful authority and self-control - values as appropriate in a peaceable civilian society as in the Marine Corps.

In addition to the promise of effecting behavioral changes, the boot camp movement was attractive because it diverted offenders from overcrowded prison systems (the southern boot camp was a short, though harsh, alternative to a prison term). This was a relevant consideration in New York, whose prison census was also skyrocketing. New York looked at the boot camps and elected to use them - but only as a starting point. Shock Incarceration as developed by DOCS is a creatively eclectic program, combining the military discipline of the boot camps with other traditions including our own forestry camp, community service, Network and drug treatment.

New York opened its first Shock program at Monterey (like Summit, a former forestry camp) in 1987. With the arrival of a platoon of Shock inmates on April 12, 1988, Summit became the second facility to offer this new program.

Motivational graffiti

For six months, Summit's Shock inmates are immersed in a total experience in which even the environment of sight and sound reinforces the message of responsibility and change Summit is loud, but its loudness is not the jangled, incoherent din of a maximum-security cell block. The sounds of Summit are clear and focused: officers' shouted commands and exhortations are reiterated in the chants of marching inmates preaching discipline, order and esprit de corps.

And visually, too, Summit is focused. There is no helter-skelter sudden dashing about here: instead, lines of inmates move in unison, with clear purpose, against a ubiquitous display of words and images. Mottos and slogans, block-lettered and street graffiti-style, abound: "Only the best reach the Summit"; "The choice, the challenge, the responsibility is yours"; "Just do it"; "Choose your life, live your choice"; "Most people change not because they see the light but because they feel the heat." There are one-word reminders: "commitment," "pride," "integrity," "truth," "responsibility, "support," "discipline," "honesty," "teamwork," and, simply, "attitude." There are colorful murals, realistic and cartoon-style: the Shock logo with eagle and lightning bolt, together with representations of squad nicknames: "War Dogs," for the war against drugs; "No Limit Soldiers," meaning there is no limit to which the inmates will not go to better themselves; "Red Bricks," as in rebuilding their lives one brick at a time; "Top Dogs," and "Wolf Pack."

In this profusion of positive messages, a negative attitude cannot, and will not, thrive. But in the event that inmates' old, negative habits resurface, staff have recourse to "learning experiences," mild disciplinary measures such as eight-count push-ups or the "spiderman," where the inmate must vigorously run in place on all fours. The "motivation log" can be effective; two inmates at either end of a long, heavy pole will carry it everywhere they go and, by doing so, learn how to work together even when they do not get along. Still another learning experience consists of moving a pile of painted rocks (each about the size and weight of a bowling ball) to a spot about 50 feet away. While trudging back and forth, the inmate is supposed to think things over if he cannot satisfactorily explain where he went wrong, he may be required to move the pile - rock by heavy rock back to the original spot.

Inmates who fail to adhere to the letter and spirit of the program can also expect to hear from their peers, either informally or formally in a "confrontation session" during their community meetings. The same critical spirit is crucial to the drug treatment program, where the first step requires that addicts and alcoholics confront their condition and where they must later learn to make a "searching and fearless moral inventory" (fourth step) and then to "admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs (fifth step).

Accommodating diversity

When DOCS decided to extend the Shock opportunity to women, Summit was chosen as the pioneer site. The first platoon of 25 female Shock inmates arrived on December 12, 1988, and followed the same rigorous schedule of exercise, drill, work, school and drug treatment as the men. Summit's fully-integrated Shock program operated successfully until, for space reasons, the women's unit was transferred to Lakeview (also now coed) in 1992.

Before long, however, Summit's proven ability to absorb diversity was tapped a new. After several years of rapid growth, overall Shock numbers statewide had leveled off. In 1998, 60 of Summit's beds were converted to general confinement, followed by another 40 beds the next year. The two populations are housed and programmed separately. Like the Shock inmates, general population inmates have work assignments, usually on DEC forestry projects. Unlike Shock inmates, the general confinement group has access to programs and privileges such as an Inmate Liaison Committee, packages and television that are denied to Shock inmates.

The arrival of the general confinement group added to Summit's crazy-quilt appearance. Unlike the Shock inmates, who have no free time and no leftover energy, the new inmates need exercise and recreation areas. So, alongside the labyrinth of passages and alleys in the back, there are portable basketball hoops and makeshift fitness equipment: weighted tires hanging on chains, bars stretched across concrete blocks for pull-ups and other ingenious improvisations.

Savings with safety

New York's goal in creating Shock was to reduce the demand on prison bedspace by treating and releasing specially selected offenders earlier than their court-set minimum sentences, and to do so without compromise to community safety. The goal has been achieved.

Since Shock's start in 1987, almost 24,000 inmates graduated as of September 30, 2000. Each of those inmates was released almost a year earlier than would have been possible without Shock. That translates to about 30,000 person-years of avoided imprisonment. it also translates to large savings to the taxpayers - the state estimates it would have cost $740 million to house, clothe, feed and program those 24,000 inmates during the extra time they would have served without Shock. And the early release of 24,000 inmates was accomplished, the evidence shows, without compromising community safety: the rate of return to custody of Shock graduates is lower than the rates of otherwise similar inmates who did not go through the program (inmates legally eligible for Shock but not selected, and inmates who started but did not complete Shock).

Not since the opening of the Elmira Reformatory in 1876 has any correctional development created a stir like Shock. Shock caught the imagination of the public. It continues to enthuse participants, not only with the prospect of early release but with the possibility of real and deep-seated change and the chance for a more rewarding life after release.

Shock is also an energizing force for staff Summit's personnel - uniformed and civilian, from the superintendent on down - see Shock as an opportunity to make a difference. For these men and women, the words on the barracks walls are not ornaments or tricks: they are shorthand for a philosophy of living to which they are committed, and which they work diligently to impart to their charges.