The Suffolk County Correctional System is operated by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). The system, with an average daily population of 1,400 inmates, is the fourth largest local jail system in the state and consists of a maximum security wing, built in phases commencing in 1966 and a newer medium security building completed in 1987. This building has a square footage of 298,592. Riverhead has a design capacity of 769 cells. All specialized beds for mental observation and segregation are located here as well.
A second facility is located in Yaphank. This facility is somewhat smaller, with a facility design capacity of 504 and houses most of the system’s sentenced males in dormitory style housing. Originally constructed in 1959, there were housing additions in 1982, 1986, and 1987. New kitchen and laundry facilities were opened in 2003.
A Correction Systems Needs Assessment was completed in January 2004, which in part concluded the need for an immediate expansion of the system-wide bed capacity. To accomplish this expansion, a new facility was opened in Yaphank in 2013.
On the same grounds is a third unit, a 54 bed D.W.I. Alternative Facility, which was opened in 1987 to reduce overcrowding and recidivism among D.W.I./Substance abuse offenders. This facility is constructed primarily of modular trailers.
All told, the facilities require approximately 900 staff to provide security, programming, and management services to the total inmate population of more than 1,700. Beyond this number are other categories of SCSO employees who are assigned to other divisions but play critical roles in the day-to-day management of the jails including staff who transport inmates to and from court, information technology, and criminal identification bureau. These figures also do not include the clinical and administrative staff of the County’s Health Department who provide medical, mental health, and dental care within the facilities.
Inmates typically enter the system in one of four ways. Persons who are arrested for crimes in the western part of the county are typically brought to the local police substations first. They are then transferred to a holding area adjacent to the District Court in Islip where they are processed and then arraigned. If committed to jail, the SCSO then transports the post-arraigned defendant to Riverhead, where they are admitted into the jail system. Individuals arrested on the East end are first taken to local justice courts and then transported after arraignment to Riverhead. Probation/parole violators are typically brought directly to Riverhead to await revocation proceedings, unless they are arrested on new charges in which case they will enter the system just as any new arrestee would.