Department of Corrections moving parole HQ to Second Avenue

Gowanus braces for parole office

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn’s parole headquarters is headed for Gowanus, and the local community board is preparing for a fight from neighbors apprehensive about an influx of former prisoners to the industrial neighborhood.

The state plans to move the borough’s parole offices to 15 Second Ave., between Fifth Street and the Gowanus Canal, across the fetid inlet from Whole Foods Market, which is likely to draw the ire of residents, who have heard nothing about it until now, an administrator for Community Board 6 said.

“It certainly has the potential to be controvers­ial,” said district manager Craig Hammerman. “The general reaction has been that people are just as surprised as we were.”

Upon learning of the impending move, Hammerman penned a letter to the state Department of Corrections and Community Services, voicing his concern that the office will threaten the industrial character of the area, though the building in question is zoned for commercial use. Hammerman said he is reaching out to the state to talk about its plans.

The building’s property manager penned a letter to the community board on July 2 touting the facility, claiming it has been hard for the prisons agency to find enough space to house it, the parolee reporting part of which currently makes its home on Livingston Street, between Flatbush Avenue and Nevins Street in Downtown. The letter stressed that the office serves a crucial function in reintegrating ex-offenders with their communities, but also pointed out that no special permissions are needed to proceed.

“The DOCCS facility fulfills a critical community need, providing meeting space for parolees and parole officers, and assisting with their transition into the community,” wrote Chaim Simkowitz. “The State of New York cannot allow the Brooklyn area to operate without a DOCCS presence, and due to the difficulties of finding a suitable location, we are very excited that we were able to obtain the necessary permitting and approvals to expedite this process.”

The new parole headquarters is slated to employ 150, a department spokesman said. The workers will move from three borough locations, the spokesman said. The consolidation will make the operation more efficient, he said.

“It will obviously be easier to have everyone in one place,” he said.

The Department of Buildings issued a permit in March for alterations that would add two stories to the existing one-story building, and construction began recently.

The buildings department forced crews to stop work on July 3 after finding illegal crane work underway, but withdrew the order on Wednesday, according to public records.

The parole office does not yet have a move-in date, the spokesman said.

Simkowitz did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to reflect that Craig Hammerman is not planning public meetings on the parole office, as an earlier version of this story indicated.
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Reasonable discourse

jjm from c. hill says:
Its funny how some of the residents of today's Gowanus are compaining about a parole building being there. Ironically, some of those parolees most likely lived in Gowanus before the gentries showed up so its alomst like a homecoming for some.
July 9, 2014, 4:23 pm
Ian from Williamsburg says:
People who oppose gentrification and residential development, this is what you get. I think people that are against an influx of residential developments have some archaic view of a impractical idealist expectation for middle class jobs whereas there's little job generation in the city for manufacturing because of the absurdly high cost of land, labor and capital in NYC. Instead these preserved industrial/commercial zones just get unwanted government office (think tow lot in the Navy yard) and otherwise low paying subsidized industry. Just work with demand and allow for added residential and better service jobs will follow.
July 9, 2014, 8:14 pm
Harry from near the location under discussion says:
The facility could be a great asset to the community. Lets hope that Whole Foods and other businesses in the area also get the support to hire the parolees and help make their reintegration a positive thing for building a stronger community all around.
July 9, 2014, 10:12 pm
Robert from Not in my neighborhood says:
The DOCCS facility will be even more difficult to access for persons trying to transition back to normalcy and "walk the line". This move is not taking into consideration the need for a location that has consistent access to multiple trains. The closing of the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Staten Island did not take the needs of the inmate population into consideration and meant more travel time and less access for family members to support these fathers, sons, and brothers who will be coming home. The DOCCS is not thinking about the needs of these people coming home. Putting this facility near the canal should not be an option.
July 10, 2014, 7:05 am
David from Gowanus says:
I am fully in favor of this in concept but if this is a location for Parolees to report to it makes no sense as there is no public transportation. Seems unfair to Parolees actually
July 10, 2014, 8:35 am
Tom from Gowanus says:
The R train is 3 blocks away and 4 busses stop within 2 blocks. Waddayawant?
July 10, 2014, 10:57 am
jjm from c hill says:
I think 4th & 9th station is not too far away from here.
July 10, 2014, 11:06 am
gowanus business from gowanus says:
Rather have parolee's than yuppies.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and believe it or not, some see beauty in a sustainable society with all levels of "income" makers contributing and having opportunity, not just yuppies (aka yuckies).

Look beyond the trees!
July 10, 2014, Noon
ty from pps says:
Gowanus Business --
I don't disagree with your sentiment... but you do know that there is a difference between run-of-the-mill lower income (non-yuppy) folks and parolees.

Folks trying to turn their lives around should have every opportunity... but these aren't just folks with less money. They are actually convicted criminals who are *still* serving their sentence (in the form of parole).
July 10, 2014, 1:50 pm
Lars from Greenwood Slope says:
Were these parolees political prisoners?
July 10, 2014, 10:14 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Oh my stars! Now the monied transplant hipsters will have to look at the icky building when they go to whole foods for their organic locavore cruelty free kale and IPA.
July 11, 2014, 10:22 am
Frank from Furter says:
You know where the Federal parole office is? Its across from St Ann's school in Brooklyn Heights. CB2 where this is located now has dozens of agencies like this. Part of fair share is that they are starting to move them around. CB6 has a lot less. yes they are moving it to an industrialized neighborhood. I'll trade you the reopened jail for it anyday.
July 11, 2014, 1:03 pm
Frank Minna from Court St. says:
Parolees? Never met the guys,
July 11, 2014, 1:42 pm
vmsantiago@64gm from bklyn says:
Its a shame this is happening. Parole should be for violent parolees. Not non violent criminals. Its a waste of tax payers money! Right now parole is in disarray
March 27, 2015, 12:35 pm

Comments closed.

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