DANNEMORA — One day after the Clinton Correctional Facility superintendent and two of his top deputies were put on administrative leave, a new leader for the maximum-security prison was named.

And new rules clamp down on security at the Dannemora prison from which convicted killers Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped.


Michael Kirkpatrick will take over for Steve Racette, who was placed on leave Tuesday.

Kirkpatrick most recently served as first deputy superintendent at Elmira Correctional Facility.

Before that, he was a member of the Corrections Emergency Response Team for eight years, the last four serving as the colonel in charge of the entire CERT unit, according to the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Kirkpatrick also worked at Auburn and Sing Sing prisons. He has more than 30 years of experience working for DOCCS.


Racette, a 37-year veteran of DOCCS, was placed on leave in the wake of the June 6 escape.

First Deputy Superintendent Don Quinn and Superintendent of Security Stephen Brown were also placed on leave, as were nine other staff members.

According to DOCCS, Kirkpatrick’s immediate tasks include ensuring that all new corrective actions decided on are being vigorously implemented, determining if additional corrective steps need to be taken immediately and preparing to take any necessary further action when the Office of the Inspector General has completed its review.

DOCCS also said that, since June 6, the agency has been implementing initial corrective actions at Clinton Correctional Facility to ensure facility integrity and oversight.


• An inspection of every cell’s integrity is now performed once a week and is overseen by a senior member of the security staff.

This inspection includes viewing the catwalk behind all cells and is conducted at various points during the day. (Every cell was checked immediately after June 6).

• The number of cells searched daily and randomly for contraband has tripled.

Each cell will now be searched at least once every two months.

• Required bed checks during the night are now conducted at varying and unpredictable intervals.

• Immediately following the escape, the electrical panels in A Block were inspected, and the remainder of the blocks are currently being inspected.

The electrical panels serving cells will be randomly inspected to ensure that only the appropriate amperage is being delivered to the cell.


• A member of the executive team (captain or higher) is now required to be present during the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift.

• A member of the executive team is now required during each shift to make visual inspection of staff performing inmate count procedures, security inspections and manning wall posts.

• During the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift, correction officers located in remote areas of the facility are required to check in with the watch commander every half hour.

• Security supervisors are now assigned to the facility entrance during shift changes to ensure compliance with screening procedures.


• Inspections of all tunnels are conducted monthly, replacing the previous biannual inspections.

Inspections now include photographs to allow side-by-side comparisons to detect potential security risks or alterations.

• Security gates are being installed within the facility’s tunnels.


• Clinton’s “Honor Block” was eliminated pending further review, and all inmates are subject to the same security restrictions.

• A heartbeat-detection monitor was installed as of July 1 to enhance vehicle searches.

• Construction job boxes must be kept in a gated area or secure trailer inaccessible to inmates and be inspected at the end of every day; can't be stored in the tunnels or basements; and will be checked to ensure that they contain no tools that are not needed for the particular job.

In its statement, DOCCS said it continues to fully cooperate with the Inspector General’s review of Clinton Correctional Facility.


Correction officers at Clinton and several other facilities across the state were reportedly considering implementing a "slow down" or "work to rule," where they deliberately follow every rule to the letter of the law, which would likely lead to a disruption of daily life inside prisons.

The move is said to be in response to the administrators and staff members placed on leave.

New York State Correction Officers Police and Benevolent Association, the union that represents officers, is not sanctioning any slow down or work to rule, according to spokesman James Miller.

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Twitter: @jlotemplio

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Staff Writer at Press-Republican since November of 1985. Has covered just about all beats at the paper, including sports.Currently covers government and politics. Graduated from Plattsburgh State in 1985. Originally from Rochester, NY.

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