Commission Members and Organization

Commission Members

The three members of the Commission of Correction are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the New York State Senate. The Governor also designates one of the three Commissioners to serve as Chair.

 

Chairman Allen Riley
Chairman Riley of the State Commission of Correction

Designated as Commission Chairman by former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Allen Riley has been a member of the Commission since June 2017. Prior to joining the Commission, he served as Madison County Sheriff for more than seven years. As sheriff, he headed an agency with more than 160 employees among five divisions: Corrections, Criminal, Narcotics, Civil and Pistol Permit. He also oversaw the Madison County Child Advocacy Center, which investigates child physical and sexual abuse cases, and served as a member of former Governor Cuomo’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice.

Prior to being elected sheriff, Mr. Riley was a 27-year veteran of the New York State Police, serving in Troop D as an investigator, handling homicide and other serious cases, and as a uniform trooper. He was a narcotics detection and explosives detection K-9 handler and field training officer, among other duties. Mr. Riley served on the board of directors of the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute; the New York State Association for Incarcerated Education Programs, and the Madison County Office of the Aging Advisory Council, among other positions. He was twice named the American Legion Law Enforcement Office of the Year in Madison County. He attended Morrisville State College (SUNY), and was the college’s commencement speaker in 2014.

Mr. Riley is married and has two daughters.

 

Commissioner Yolanda Canty
Headshot of Commissioner Canty of the NYS Commission of Correction

Yolanda Canty is a corrections executive with 28 years of experience, most recently as a Bureau Chief with the New York City Department of Correction, where she developed, oversaw and managed implementation of the policies and procedures safeguarding approximately 8,000 incarcerated individuals and 7,000 uniform and non-uniform employees. During her tenure as Bureau Chief, she led the implementation of several major correction reform initiatives, including the elimination of punitive segregation for the 16 to 21-year-old incarcerated population; the creation of a specialized secure detention facility operated in conjunction with the Administration for Children’s Services; and, in compliance with the implementation of the New York State Raise the Age legislation (that required all youth between the ages of 16 and 17 be removed from the custody of the New York City Department of Correction), transitioned the custody of all affected youth to the supervision of the Administration for Children's Services. She retired from the New York City Department of Correction in 2018. In 2019, she served as an adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College. She has a bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree from John Jay College.

Commissioner Elizabeth Gaynes

Photo of Elizabeth Gaynes standing in front of the American Flag
Elizabeth Gaynes was a Senior Fellow at the New York Women’s Foundation, following 35+ years as President and CEO of the Osborne Association, a 90-year old New York nonprofit organization committed to transforming prisons for the people who live in them, visit them, and work in them. During her tenure, Osborne grew from three people to more than 350, establishing educational, treatment, workforce, and family services in New York City, Newburgh, Buffalo, and in more than 25 prisons and jails. Under her leadership, Osborne established FamilyWorks, the first comprehensive parenting program in a men’s state prison, and acquired the former Fulton Correctional Facility to redevelop as a community reentry center for older adults leaving state prison. Along with her daughter, Ms. Gaynes was the first person from the global North nominated for the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child for their work on behalf of children affected by parental incarceration, and was named a Champion of Change for Children of Incarcerated Parents by the Obama White House.

Commissioner Gaynes has visited jails and prisons as an attorney, a service provider, and a family member, and served on the Governor’s Prison Redevelopment Commission. Prior to leading Osborne, she was an Associate at the Pretrial Services Resource Center (now the Pretrial Justice Institute) in Washington, DC, where she worked with jails in jurisdictions around the country in their efforts to reduce overcrowding and increase alternatives to detention. She began her career as a criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY, following the Attica uprising, and served as a staff attorney at the Albany Law School Legal Assistance Project, a clinical program that later became the Albany office of Prisoners Legal Services of New York.

Ms. Gaynes holds a B.A. from Syracuse University, and a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law. 
 


 

Meetings

The three-member Commission meets monthly and as needed to discuss matters related to local and state correction facilities and police department lock ups, including variances, maximum facility capacity, proposed changes in regulations, construction projects, and death investigations, among other matters. 

Meeting agendas and pertinent records are posted at least 24 hours in advance of all meetings, which are subject to the state’s Open Meetings Law.

In the interest of public health and as authorized by state law, members of the public are currently prohibited from attending meetings in person. The public may watch live meetings using links below.

View Upcoming and past meetings

Annual Reports

The Commission's annual reports that are delivered to the Governor and Legislature.

Additional Reports

History

The 1894 State constitution and subsequent enabling legislation provided for a State Commission of Prisons, consisting of eight gubernatorial appointees. The commission was empowered to visit and inspect all penal institutions and to promote humane and efficient administration of these institutions.

In 1901, the commission membership was reduced to three appointees and the commissioners were assigned to serve also as a Board of Commissioners for Paroled Prisoners.

The board was abolished in 1908 and was replaced by a Board of Parole for State Prisons that was independent of the Commission of Prisons. The membership of the Commission of Prisons was increased to seven gubernatorial appointees.

As part of the constitutional reorganization of State government in 1925-26, the Department of Correction was created and the name of the Commission of Prisons was changed to the Commission of Correction . The commissioner of the new department became the chairperson of the commission. The Commission of Correction was placed administratively within the Department of Correction but retained independent powers of visitation and inspection.

In 1973 , the commission was established as an independent agency within the Executive Department, under Article 3, NYS Correction Law. The commission functioned with part-time members until 1975 (Chapter 865), when the present commission with three full-time members and staff was established.

The Commission strives to provide a safe, stable and humane correctional system and ensure the delivery of essential services in the correctional setting. The Commission, besides working towards its mission statement, also oversees new jail facility development, and assists in the implementation of new correctional technologies.

The three members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor to statutory terms with the advice and consent of the New York Senate. One Commissioner serves as Chair and chief executive officer, while the two others serve as respective Chairs of the Medical Review Board (MRB) and the Citizen's Policy and Complaint Review Council (CPCRC).

The MRB was established by the Legislature to investigate deaths in correctional facilities with the State and to make recommendations for improving the delivery of health care to detainees and sentenced offenders.

The CPCRC was established by the Legislature to address the need for increased public participation in the oversight of local correctional facilities, oversees the inmate complaint and grievance process, and advise the Commission. The Council is comprised of seven members appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate.

The Commission is primarily a field services agency, with various regions in the State being serviced by Correctional Facility Specialists from its Field Operations Bureau.

Legal and support service units complete the agency's staff.

Here's an Organizational Chart of the Commission.

Contact Commission of Correction

Contact us by phone:

By Phone518-485-2346

Mailing Address:

Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
80 S. Swan Street, 12th Floor
Albany, NY 12210

Contact us by fax:

518-485-2467