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WENDE HUB PRISONS - NY DOC New York Prisons in the WENDE HUB - Albion, Attica, Orleans, Rochester, Buffalo, Wende, Wyoming, Livingston, Groveland, Collins, Gowanda, Lakeview.

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Old 10-09-2004, 05:50 PM
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Manzanita Manzanita is offline
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Thumbs up Gowanda Correctional Facility

Gowanda Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 350, South Road
Gowanda, New York 14070-0350

(716) 532-0177

(Erie County)

Inmate Mail:
P.O. Box 311, Zip 14070-0311

Medium Male Directions


- If he has just arrived there he will have to wait to see his counsellor before being able to add your number to his approved phone list.

- Visitation is on weekends only and they go by the odd/even number rule. If his number is even, you visit on the even numbered day. I.E., his number ends in 022 then your visit day is Saturday, July 26th as opposed to Sunday, July 27th.

- They begin processing at 8:00am and visiting ends at 2:30pm.

- You will fill out two forms.... a long one and a short one. You need two pieces of I.D. and one must have a picture. If you are bringing him anything, you will fill out a package form.

There are a number of stops as you get processed:

1. The short form has a number written in the corner. They will call you up to the first desk by this number. This is where they will enter you into the computer.
2. The second stop is where they check you in and they call the floor to send for your man.
3. The third stop you empty your pockets and go through the metal detector, then get stamped. DO NOT wear an underwire bra. They will make you remove it. Also, don't wear metal pins in your hair, etc, as you will set off the metal detector and tick off everyone in line who is waiting for you to clear.
4. The fourth stop you get on the bus when they tell you to.
5. The fifth stop you get off the bus to another building, show your short form and they check your stamp. You then proceed to the first set of gates, go through a door to the outside to the next set of gates. Go through the gates to the next door. This is the visit building.
6. You check in at the desk. If the outdoor visit area is open they will ask if you want inside or out. They will then assign you a table.

- Don't wear anything inappropriate.... they will not let you in.
- Do not take unnecessary chances during the visits. They will catch you.
- Bring change, $1's or $5's for the vending machines.
If you want to drop him any money for comissary, i would do cash, only because its all i see people handing over. You can only drop off up to $50.00 anything higher than that has to be mailed in. You would give the money for comissary once u enter the room where u show your hand stamp. you can also purchase pics there as well. (exact change only)

Tepee bed and breakfast Inn -$30-35. And close to the prison.

-In the 1yr & 1/2 my son has been in gowanda I have only stayed in the Microtel motel in Springville,ny. Which is exit 55 of thruway. Not sure if there are any closer but this is the one I found and we like it there. It has a walmart across the street for any last min. things, Restaurants right on same strip and a small shopping plaza. It also has a continental breakfast in a.m. to hold you over. People there are very nice, it isn't too expensive and not too far from Gowanda or Collins. To get to those facilities from microtel you take a right out of parking lot then a left at 1st light and keep going straight on road til you get to end of road then take a left and a few seconds later the facilities are on the right hand side I believe collins is 1st then for Gowanda you turn right onto South Road. Hopes this helps someone.(lindy1059)

-closest airport is Buffalo and possibly renting a car from there ( Gowanda is like an hr from Buffalo give or take. I will also tell u how to get from Buffalo to GCF very easy.

Marriages are done at Gowanda but there are certain steps which i have no clue as to what they are because we are not getting married there. They DO NOT the have the Family Reunion Program (no trailors)

be prepared to have your visit terminated if you live within a 250 radius of the facility and drive there. When the free buses are there the facility terminates anyone who lives fairly close and isn't on a bus.

The buses are supposed to visit the 2nd and 3rd Sundays each month,but sometimes don't stick to the schedule. Gowanda is a big prison and they don't have an overflow room for visiting like other prisons so visiting day gets pretty crowded and that's when termination happens, usually after count.(rapheals girl)

The packages are 35lbs. a month. They are the regular things that you can send. Visiting is on the weekends they are odd and even. They go by the last number of his din number. If it ends in 3 then you can visit on the odd number days. Like 15. I usually would take flamboyant up. They left from the city around 11 and we got up there at 6;30. They do not open until around 7 sometimes 7;30. The processing is pretty fast. Visiting ends at 2;30. In the summer sometimes they have festivals. Or you can sit outside in the nice weather. They have vending machines which aren't to bad and you can pay to have you picture taken. Make sure you bring a picture id. The co in visiting are pretty nice. (hanksmom)

Shock Or Gowanda? Informative Thread!

Post info and questions here:

If you have any additional information, you can PM me- and it will be added accordingly. Thank You.

Rising high above the farms and suburban homes on the plains of western New York is a matched pair of seven-story structures. Area residents are used to the towers, which have stood in the community of Collins, about 30 miles south of Buffalo, for over 40 years. Until recently, these seemingly misplaced high-rises were home to mentally ill patients of the Gowanda State Hospital, one of many massive psychiatric institutions built by the state Department of Mental Hygiene earlier in the century. Now, the towers are a part of the Gowanda Correctional Facility, housing a different kind of individual: state prisoners serving felony terms.

Gowanda is one of two DOCS facilities occupying the site of the former psychiatric center. Collins is also on the grounds, but the two institutions are separated by a fence and are separately administered, sharing only a few support functions such as heat, water and power.

Collins opened in 1982. Gowanda opened a dozen years later, in 1994, and now houses 2,300 men, second in Population in the state correctional system only to Clinton. Together, the two co-located institutions house nearly 4,000 men, approximately the same number as the former psychiatric hospital held in its heyday.

Gowanda State Hospital

The region that is now the village of Collins was occupied by Seneca Indians in the mid-1600's. By the terms of the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, the Senecas were settled on reservations. In 1808, a group of Quakers, following their charitable and peacemaking traditions, traveled west to offer counsel and education to the Native Americans whose plight to adapt to their shrinking world was already apparent.

The Quaker missionaries bought a 700-acre tract of land next to the Cattaraugus Reservation. The missionaries were soon joined by farmers who saw agricultural opportunities, and by tanners, blacksmiths and others who would serve the new community. By 1821, there were nearly a hundred families, and the community was organized as the village of Collins.

Many years later, in 1894, the state took title to 500 acres of the original Quaker settlers' property for construction of a state hospital for the insane. The first building, still in use by Collins, was completed in 1898. Over the years, nearly 100 more buildings would be erected as the institution census rose to over 4,000 psychiatric patients.

By the late 1950's, Gowanda and the state's other psychiatric hospitals housed nearly 100,000 mentally ill New Yorkers. Then began the phenomenon we now call deinstitutionalization." With the development of antipsychotic drugs, previously chronic cases, once doomed to lifelong institutionalization, could sometimes be restored to functioning and discharged. They were often times transitioned into independence with the aid of new “half-way" or transitional care centers. In other cases, community care options eliminated altogether the need for admission to state hospitals.

The immense asylums of the earlier part of the 20 Century were gradually emptying.

Conversion to State Correctional Facilities

At about the same time, the census of the state's adult prisons also began to drop. From a high of nearly 20,000 inmates in 1958, the prison population steadily decreased to about 12,500 in 1972. But then, while the mental health system population continued to fall, the prison population abruptly reversed gears.

State officials, desperate for prison bed space, began to look at underutilized state properties for takeover by DOCS. First to go were several drug rehabilitation centers operated by the state Drug Addiction Control Commission (DACC), which was turning away from residential programs. Also assumed by DOCS were some old tuberculosis hospitals and state Division for Youth facilities.

Also available, clearly, were the psychiatric facilities with their dwindling inpatient populations. But initial proposals drew fierce opposition. The spirited and vociferous protests against conversion came from neighbors fearful of escapes and from Mental Health employees fearful for their jobs. It was several years before any steps were taken in this direction.

Gowanda, down to just over 600 patients, would be the first mental health institution to yield ground to corrections. In 1982, a section of the psychiatric center was converted to the medium-security Collins prison.

The announcement in 1994 that DOCS would take over the remainder of the complex, now virtually empty, came as good news to the community. Safety fears had evaporated during the dozen incident-free years Collins had operated. Job security had ceased to be a cause for opposition. This was because most of the mental health staff had already been laid off and the closing of the psychiatric center was inevitable, whether the buildings were put to other use or not.

No longer a threat to jobs, prison expansion now promised opportunity. As it turned out, the opening of the medium-security Gowanda prison brought nearly 1,000 jobs to the community. Additionally, a significant number of the new hires were former state hospital employees.

The property and structures were transferred from the Office of Mental Health to DOCS. The first inmates arrived, by transfer from other state facilities, on August 14, 1994.

Gowanda Correctional Facility

The facility is set on approximately 45 acres, 40 within the perimeter fence. Over the fence to the north is Collins; to the south are the firing range, a storehouse, a visitor processing center and a parking lot.

At its opening in 1994, the prison's capacity was 750. Over the next few months, former psychiatric housing areas that had deteriorated from disuse were rehabilitated and brought into compliance with DOCS and American Correctional Association (ACA) standards.

With inmate occupancy of these structures, Gowanda's population rose to 2,250. New construction of a Special Housing Unit (SHU) in 1995 brought the capacity to 2,300 men, making it the second largest correctional facility in New York state.

Gowanda’s inmates are housed in five buildings. There is a one-story, flat-roofed SHU building in the shape of a cross, with 48 maximum-security cells. All other housing is in four brick buildings with medium-security dormitories or smaller multiple occupancy rooms.

The two towers, officially known as A and B Buildings, date from 1957 and are long, narrow structures, each with six stories above the ground floor. The towers, mirror images of each other, stand parallel and house 1,500 men. They are connected by a four-story cross-over building containing classrooms, offices for program staff and the large kitchen serving the entire facility.

Adjacent to the towers on the east is a one-story brick building, also in the shape of a cross, constructed in 1933. It contains classrooms, the laundry facilities, the inmate commissary, the state shop and maintenance areas. Just west of the towers is a one- story program building constructed in 1986. The program building includes a gymnasium, auditorium, the libraries, classrooms and an employee cafeteria.

Along the south side of the institution are two identical three-story brick buildings dating from 1933. Each has a narrow main section with wings of about the same length jutting out diagonally from each of the four corners. These buildings (called C and D Buildings) contain approximately 750 inmates who are participants in special residential programs sex offenders, ASAT (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment) and DWI.

The C and D Building are separated from the rest of the facility by a 16-foot high fence with a truck trap and pedestrian gate. The fence was erected to better control and contain, if necessary, the densely populated institution. It also serves to isolate the special program participants from other inmates.

Additional structures include the administration building and the visiting room, both built in 1997

A distinctive feature of Gowanda is that it has no mess hall. Instead, 33 cafeterias are located in the four housing buildings. Meals are prepared in the kitchen in the cross-overbuilding between the towers and brought to the cafeterias through underground tunnels. The tunnels, also used by maintenance staff, were dug out years ago for ease in moving psychiatric patients.

Innovative inmate programs

In the short five years of its life as a correctional facility, Gowanda has been the site of some very innovative approaches to inmate programming.

All 2,300 of Gowanda's inmates (excepting only those in SHU status) participate in the Department's Community Lifestyles Program. Community Lifestyles is a modification of the intensive therapeutic community structure employed in the Network and Shock Incarceration programs. It is a housing unit based program, encouraging and developing a sense of mutual responsibility among the members of the housing unit.

While the program undoubtedly serves to mold a better citizen for community living after release, it is primarily intended to improve safety and the quality of life within the correctional facility. Gowanda's administration and staff report that Community Lifestyles has proved an effective tool in the management of such a large population of incarcerated men.

Gowanda opened with the understanding that it would offer a concentrated Vocational and Skills Assessment Training ("VAST") program to better prepare inmates for entry into the work release and day reporting programs. In the five years since VAST was designed, however, Governor Pataki, moving to improve public safety, tightened eligibility requirements for work release and day reporting. He eliminated participation by violent felons, resulting in a reduction in the number of work release participants from more than 6,000 before he took office in 1995 to fewer than 3,000 today.

With the reduction in the original target population, Gowanda redesigned its VAST program, shifting the focus from temporary release preparation to parole preparation. Gowanda continues to stress release readiness through academic education, vocational training, alcohol and substance abuse treatment, and a sex offender treatment program.

Two related programs operate in D Building. The ASAT program treats 144 inmates at a time; Gowanda's ASAT program is residential, meaning that participants are housed together.

Another part of the same building quarters the 72 inmates participating in Gowanda's unique and pioneering DWI program. The years preceding Gowanda's opening had seen a dramatic increase in the number of state prison sentences meted out to persons convicted of driving while intoxicated and related offenses. From 98 such commitments in 1987, the number had risen to 377 in 1998. Arguing that failure to provide treatment to this growing population, most of them repeat offenders, was irresponsible, DOCS officials successfully lobbied for funding and the first of its kind program in New York state began operations in October of 1996.

The typical DWI inmate is a multiple offender serving a 1-to-3 year sentence. He is generally denied release by the Board of Parole and, if he has not forfeited any "good time" as a consequence of misbehavior or refusal to participate in assigned programs, he will be conditionally released after two years. In accordance with the public's expectation that the DWI offender will receive treatment before he is released hack to the community, an inmate's refusal to participate in the Gowanda DWI treatment program will result in the loss of good time and, in most instances, imprisonment for the full three-year maximum sentence.

With few exceptions, all DWI commitments, who in former times were usually sent to minimum-security camps, are assigned from reception to Gowanda. The three-phase institutional treatment program will usually take between nine months and a year, depending on individual progress as measured by the treatment team including program and security staff. The program's fourth phase is community-based treatment after release, with support and monitoring by Division of Parole field staff.

Gowanda was also selected as the site for an expansion of the Department's sex offender treatment program. Although convicted sex offenders constitute a significant percentage of the Department's inmate population - there are nearly 4,700 in the Department's custody now a focused effort to provide treatment is relatively new.

Until 1991, there were only scattered, decentralized treatment programs offered in various facilities, depending on the interest, initiative and availability of counselors or other qualified staff members. DOCS' determination to systematize and coordinate sex offender treatment programs got underway with a residential program at Oneida in 1991.There are now 13 such programs in the Department, with others in the process of formulation.

Gowanda's program, which opened just last April, is the newest and the largest entry to the Department's effort to prevent further victimization in the community. In addition to onsite counseling, staff members are collaborating with the Division of Parole and community treatment providers to ensure post-release follow-up treatment to prevent relapse.

The 144 participants in Gowanda's sex offender treatment program are housed in one-half of C Building. DOCS plans to double the size of the program to 288 in the near future. Utilizing the entire building will enable more offenders to receive treatment, and, by relocating general confinement inmates to other quarters, will bring greater privacy and enhance the therapeutic environment necessary to so sensitive a program.

Gowanda is also appropriate for a program directed by football great Jim Brown, as the facility is between the sites where he earned fame as an All-American at Syracuse University and a future Hall of Famer for the Cleveland Browns. Brown's Amer-I-Can program is aimed at increasing inmates' self-understanding, self-esteem and self-determination.

The program is run by a bilingual facilitator on the Amer-I-Can staff who has the status of a volunteer with DOCS. Amer-A-Can complements and reinforces Gowanda's state-funded programs, particularly those addressing aggression management substance abuse and educational deficiencies.

A total of 765 inmates participate in Gowanda's academic education program, ranging from adult basic education to GED (high school equivalency). Another 400 are students in vocational training courses including building maintenance, custodial maintenance, small engine repair, appliance repair, floor covering, electrical trades, general business and horticulture.

Gowanda also has a vocational course entitled "C SET-TV," offering training in all behind-scenes work in video production, such as camerawork, splicing and editing. The facility offers a computer technology program where inmates assemble computer components, with the goal of replacing the Apple computers in the DOCS' academic program computer labs. DOCS is realigning programs to lead to industry-recognized A certification of graduates as computer repair technicians.
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I no longer work for PTO and do not have updated information to share
please go to the NY Forum for help from current staff and members!
Good Luck to you!

Last edited by Momma Ann; 04-26-2010 at 04:33 PM..
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Manzanita For This Useful Post:
col (11-01-2009), jadejonez (06-29-2012), jakesmommy183 (11-17-2010), jnwinnie (10-30-2009), Justice07 (11-22-2008)
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