Clinton Correctional Facility

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Clinton Correctional Facility
Clinton Correctional Facility.jpg
LocationDannemora, New York
Coordinates44°43′25″N 73°43′15″W / 44.7236°N 73.7208°W / 44.7236; -73.7208Coordinates: 44°43′25″N 73°43′15″W / 44.7236°N 73.7208°W / 44.7236; -73.7208
Security classMaximum
Population2,865 (as of December 2003)
Opened1845 (1845)
Managed byNew York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Clinton Correctional Facility is a New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision maximum security state prison for men located in the Village of Dannemora, New York.[1][2] The prison is sometimes colloquially referred to as Dannemora (having once served as a massive insane asylum and named "Dannemora State Hospital for the Criminally Insane"), although its name is derived from its location in Clinton County, New York. The southern perimeter wall of the prison borders New York State Route 374. Church of St. Dismas, the Good Thief, a church built by inmates, is located within the walls. The prison is sometimes referred to as New York's Little Siberia, due to the cold winters in Dannemora and the isolation of the upstate area. It is the largest maximum security prison and the third oldest prison in New York. The staff includes about a thousand officers and supervisors.[3]

In the post-Furman v. Georgia period and prior to the 2008 repeal of the death penalty, it housed New York State's death row for men.[4][5]


Built in 1844, the prison originally served as a site where prisoners were used to supply labor to local mines in both Dannemora and nearby Lyon Mountain. This enterprise was not profitable, and by 1877, mining had ended with the prisoners being put to work on other trades.

As the population grew and more prisoners were housed there, in 1887 authorities had new 60-foot- high walls built, which still stand. In 1892, the first prisoner was executed in the electric chair at the prison. Twenty-six men were executed between 1892 and 1913. This period also saw many prisoners cured of tuberculosis, due in part to the clean air in the Adirondacks.

Clinton Prison Tuberculosis Ward 6, Tuberculosis Hospital

(Antibiotics were not then available to treat the frequently fatal disease.) Prisoners diagnosed with the disease were frequently transferred from other prisons.

In 1899, a mental health facility, the Dannemora State Hospital, was built on the grounds to house prisoners who became insane while serving their sentence. Such prisoners were retained in the facility if they remained insane following the completion of their sentence.[6]

Southern perimeter wall, 2007

In 1929, Clinton Correctional was the site of a riot. Coupled with riots in other prisons in that year, it led to prison reform in New York State. Included was the construction of schools in the prison and the renovation or rebuilding of most of the structures within the prison walls in order to update the facilities to modern standards.

The Church of St. Dismas, the Good Thief was built from 1939 to 1941. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 as a significant structure.[7] In the later half of the 20th century, the prison's mental institutions closed and were converted into an annex to house more prisoners.

On June 6, 2015, inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, both serving sentences for murder, escaped from the facility. Two prison employees, Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, were charged with aiding the escape. During the search, on June 26, Matt was shot and killed by a border patrol agent in the town of Malone, New York. Two days later, Sweat was shot by a New York State Trooper and subsequently captured. In the days after the escape, some prisoners reported having been beaten by guards in an attempt to obtain information as to the whereabouts and plans of the escaped inmates.[8]

Notable inmates[edit]

  • Chanel Lewis: Serving a life sentence without parole. Convicted in the Murder of Karina Vetrano.
  • Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago: Bronx Trinitarios gang member serving 25 years to life for 1st degree murder, convicted in the Murder of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz.
  • James Harris Jackson: White supremacist and perpetrator of the murder of Timothy Caughman.
  • John Bittrolff: Murderer and suspect in the long island serial killer case.
  • Michael Alig: 10 to 20-year sentence for the murder of his drug dealer in March 1996; paroled May 2014.
  • George Appo: 19th century pickpocket and con artist. His biographer provides a description of 19th century prison conditions in New York State.[9]
  • Richard Bilello: Lucchese crime family associate and convicted murderer.
  • Robert Chambers: the "preppy murderer", who served much of his sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility for the manslaughter conviction of Jennifer Levin, as well as a later sentence for drug possession after heroin was found in his cell and new criminal charges were brought.
  • Gregory Corso: Italian-American poet, one of the inner circle of "The Beat Generation" along with Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs. Sentenced at 17, Corso served about three years for stealing a suit.
  • Jesse Friedman: One of the subjects of the 2003 documentary film, Capturing the Friedmans; pleaded guilty to sodomy and sexual abuse charges related to child molestation in the 1980s.
  • Robert F. Garrow: Serial rapist/murderer; served twice at Clinton Correctional: 1961-1963 for rape (transferred to Auburn Correctional Facility), and 1974-1977 for second-degree murder (transferred to Auburn Correctional Facility, followed by transfer to Fishkill Correctional Facility in 1978).[10]
  • Paul Geidel: Murderer; Longest serving prisoner in American history whose sentence ended with release. transferred to Fishkill Correctional Facility in 1972.
  • Maksim Gelman: Sentenced to 200 years for murdering four people and injuring another five.
  • David Gilbert: Serving life in prison. Arrested with members of the Black Liberation Army and other radicals following a botched Brinks armored car robbery in 1981.
  • Julio Gonzalez: perpetrator of the 1990 Happy Land Fire in the Bronx which killed 87 people.
  • Hell Rell (real name Durell Mohammad): served nearly 28 months on a criminal sale of a controlled substance conviction from 2002 to 2004.
  • John Jamelske: Mass kidnapper and serial rapist serving 18 years to life.[11]
  • Vincent Johnson, serial killer known as "Brooklyn Strangler": Serving a life sentence for the murders of five women in 1999 and 2000.
  • John Katehis: Found guilty of 2nd degree murder for the murder of ABC Radio personality, George Weber. Katehis is serving 25 years to life.
  • Marlon Legere: Serving life without parole in connection with the shooting deaths of NYPD detectives Robert Parker and Patrick Rafferty in Brooklyn.
  • Charles "Lucky" Luciano: One of the driving forces behind the development of Italian organized crime in the United States served 10 years of a 30- to 50-year sentence for running a prostitution ring before being deported to Italy after World War II.
  • Maino: Rapper from Brooklyn, New York City, charged for numerous street and gunpoint crimes.
  • Richard Matt: Murderer - Escaped with David Sweat. Shot dead by police in June 2015 while he was still at large.
  • Winston Moseley: Murderer of Catherine Genovese on March 13, 1964, hostage taker in 1968 during that year's escape spree.
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard (real name Russell Tyrone Jones): Served nearly 17 months on a criminal possession of a controlled substance conviction in 2001 and 2002.
  • Carl Paivio: Finnish American labor activist and anarchist, 4 to 8 years in 1919 for "criminal anarchy".
  • Carl Panzram: Serial killer, 1923–1928.
  • Daniel Pelosi: Convicted of murdering Ted Ammon and jury tampering[12]
  • Ralph "Bucky" Phillips: Sentenced to life without parole for the shooting of three New York State troopers in 2006 after escaping from jail.
  • Christopher Porco: Serving 50 years to life for the 2004 ax murder of his father and attempted murder of his mother in their Delmar, New York home.
  • John Resko: Author of bestseller Reprieve: The testament of John Resko (1958), the basis for the Ben Gazzara/Sammy Davis Jr. movie Convicts 4.
  • Joel Rifkin: referred to as "Joel the Ripper" by tabloids after a five-year killing spree. Murdered 17 women, and is serving 203 years to life.
  • Altemio Sanchez (also known as The Bike Path Rapist): American serial killer who murdered at least three women and raped at least 14 others in and around Buffalo, New York, over a span of 25 years (1981–2006).
  • Tupac Shakur served 8 months on a sexual abuse conviction from February to October 1995 before being released on appeal.
  • Shyne (real name Moses Michael Leviy): Beginning in 2001, served a sentence of 8 to 10 years on convictions of assault, criminal weapons possession, and reckless endangerment. Released and deported back to his native Belize.
  • Bobby Shmurda (Ackquille Pollard): Rapper who made the 2014 hit "Hot N*gga". Serving his sentence for gang related activity since 2016; was moved from Rikers Island to Dannemora in 2017.[13]
  • Eric Smith: Convicted of killing and sexually assaulting a four-year-old boy at age 13.
  • Joel Steinberg: Attorney convicted for the abuse of his common law wife, Hedda Nussbaum, and the abuse murder of his six-year-old pseudo-adopted daughter.
  • Martin Tankleff: Former Belle Terre, New York resident freed after his conviction for killing his wealthy parents Arlene and Seymour Tankleff was overturned citing evidence that others committed the murders.
  • John Taylor: Sentenced to death for shooting seven employees of a Wendy's restaurant in Queens, New York City, killing five and seriously injuring two. Taylor was re-sentenced to life without parole.
  • Renato Seabra: Serving 25 years to life for the 2011 murder of Carlos Castro.
  • Dylan Schumaker: Sentenced to 25 years to life. [as seen on Court TV] For murdering 23 month old toddler. Reduced to 18 to life after appeal.
  • Karl Karlsen: Sentenced to 15 years to life for murdering his son, in 2020 he received life without parole for murdering his wife at his California home in a fire in 1991.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dannemora village, New York[dead link]." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 2, 2010.
  2. ^ "Dannemora town, Clinton County, New York[dead link]." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 2, 2010.
  3. ^ Schwirtz, Michael; Winerip, Michael; Gebeloff, Robert (3 December 2016). "The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York State's Prisons". New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Inmate 99-B-0067" (). New York State Department of Correctional Services. January 16, 1999. Retrieved on September 2, 2010. Quote: "Monroe County Sheriff's Department officers transported Mateo at 4:45 a.m. today to the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora in Clinton County, location of the Unit for Condemned Prisoners (UCP) who are male[...]The UCP at Clinton has been physically operable for use since August 31, 1995, the day before the death penalty law took effect, as has a similar three-cell UCP for females at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County plus the single-cell death house at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville in Dutchess County. Neither of the two latter units will be staffed until there are inmates on them."
  5. ^ "Repeal of Death Sentence Regulations (Section 103.45 of 7 NYCRR)" (). New York State Department of Correctional Services. Retrieved on September 2, 2010. "Repeal regulations requiring death sentence warrants to be provided to the Commissioner and persons sentenced to death to be delivered to Clinton and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities (death row)[...]"
  6. ^ "Facility Profile: Clinton". DOCS/TODAY. NYCHS. January 1999. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  7. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  8. ^ Schwirtz, Michael; Winerip, Michael (2015-08-11). "After 2 Killers Fled, New York Prisoners Say, Beatings Were Next". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
  9. ^ Timothy J. Gilfoyle (2006). A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York. W. W. Norton Company. ISBN 978-0393329896.
  10. ^ Gooley, Lawrence P. (2009). Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow. Peru, NY: Bloated Toe Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9795741-3-9.
  11. ^ Gado, Mark. "Slavemaster". Crime Library. p. 12. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  12. ^ "March 7, 2006 Press Release" (Press release). Suffolk County, New York. March 7, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  13. ^ "NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision".
  14. ^ "Daughters on losing their mother and brother to dad who killed for insurance payouts".

External links[edit]