The New York City Department of Correction (NYCDOC) is the branch of the municipal government of New York City responsible for the custody, control, and care of New York City's imprisoned population, housing the majority of them on Rikers Island. It employs 11,163 uniformed officers and 1,400 civilian staff, has 543 vehicles, and processes over 100,000 new inmates every year, retaining a population of inmates of between 13,000 and 18,000. Its nickname is New York's Boldest. Its regulations are compiled in title 39 of the New York City Rules.
Previously located in Manhattan, the Department of Correction headquarters is now located in the Bulova building in the 11370 ZIP Code section of East Elmhurst, Queens, close to Rikers Island. The agency is headed by the Correction Commissioner, who is chosen and appointed by the Mayor of New York City.
The New York City Department of Correction was first founded as a separate entity in New York City in 1895 after a split from the Department of Public Charities and Correction. Roosevelt Island, then called Blackwell's Island, was the main penal institution under the jurisdiction of the DOC until the 1930s when it was closed. The penal institutions moved to Rikers Island, which the city purchased for $180,000, where 10 prisons and 12,000 inmates are now held.
Historians have not described the prison system of New York in the 19th century in a favorable light - with employment positions being awarded based on the spoils system and employees being characterized as largely corrupt. The Blackwell's Island penitentiary is described as having lax security, where prisoners were able to escape if they knew how to swim.
In 1995, the New York City jail system was one of the most violent in the United States, averaging more than 100 stabbings and slashings per month. Between January 1995 and January 2002, the department achieved a 93% reduction in inmate on inmate violence as a result of a management system recognized by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, called Total Efficiency Accountability Management System (TEAMS). By 2007, the number of stabbings was reduced to 19, making that year the Department of Correction's safest on record, although the issue of underreporting of incidents has not been addressed.
In 2009, former commissioner of both the Missouri and Arizona prison systems Dora Schriro was selected to head the department, with some citing a need in the department for a boost in morale. Schriro was named in several federal court cases such as Schriro v. Smith and Schriro v. Summerlin. Schriro served with the United States Department of Homeland Security prior to coming to the Department.