Human Dignity Lecture- 2014

Prison Reform: Problematic Necessity

7:30 p.m.October 8, 2014 McKenna Hall Auditorium
Video of lecture avaiable here.

Marty Horn

This year, our speaker is Martin F. Horn, Distinguished Lecturer in Corrections at the John Jay College, City University of New York and Executive Director of the New York State Sentencing Commission, by    appointment of the Chief Judge of the State of New York.

The lecture will address the inherently flawed character of the prison. Imprisonment runs counter to human nature and because of that the prison has been and will always be a flawed institution. The history of efforts at reforming prisons will be reviewed and conclusions reached about the success of those efforts. The need for continuing interest in the state of the prisons in a democratic society will be addressed in the context of the impossibility of perfection and a reasonable path to improvement suggested.

Mr. Horn is also a Managing Director of KeyPoint Government Solutions, Inc. He was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, effective Jan. 1, 2002. A year later Mayor Bloomberg appointed him to simultaneously serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, the City’s jail system, and he held both positions simultaneously until July 31, 2009.  As Correction Commissioner, Horn rebuilt morale, accountability and integrity following a series of highly publicized scandals.  He reduced suicides and cut jail violence in half; several conditions of confinement lawsuits were satisfactorily resolved; he reduced the introduction of drugs into jail by initiating New York’s first drug interdiction program including the first wide scale drug testing in the City’s jails and he reduced suicides among inmates. Horn created the largest and most ambitious jail reentry program in the nation.  He reengineered the intake process to insure all inmates were properly screened for vulnerability, possess the documents needed to work upon release, created transitional job opportunities for persons released from jail, and created systems to identify high frequency jail and shelter users. He worked with the City’s housing and homeless services community to address the needs for housing of discharged persons.

As Probation Commissioner Horn implemented evidence-based practices, improving the delivery of treatment for addiction to alcohol and other drugs, employment of offenders, the Department’s IT capacity, and streamlining the probation violation process.  As a result of his efforts recidivism among adult probationers dropped faster than in any other jurisdiction in New York State.  His “Project Zero” effort led to major changes in the City’s approach to juvenile delinquents, paving the way for a 70% reduction in the City’s placement of juvenile delinquents and a tripling of the number of alleged delinquents diverted following arrest.

From March 1995 until January 2000 Horn served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections.  During his tenure staff and inmate safety and health care improved, suicides were reduced, three long standing consent decrees were dissolved, and classification and information systems were modernized. He created an innovative addiction treatment program that for the first time provided funding for post release treatment of released offenders. Under his leadership, improvements to the provision of mental health services were made including an enlargement of facility based acute care and step-down programs, “rule out” protocols to keep mentally ill inmates out of punitive segregation, and innovative release programs for inmates with mental illness were initiated.

He later served as a member of Governor Tom Ridge’s Senior Staff as Secretary of Administration for the state of Pennsylvania where he chaired the state’s Tobacco Settlement Investment Board, the Pennsylvania Employees’ Benefit Trust Fund, the ImaginePA Executive Committee (Enterprise Resource Management), and the JNET Council (Justice Network), and was a board member of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System. 

Horn earlier served as executive director and chief operating officer for the New York State Division of Parole, and held a variety of responsible positions within the Department of Correctional Services including Superintendent of Hudson Correctional Facility. He was an assistant professor of criminal justice at the State University College in Utica, New York from 1975 to 1977.  Horn began his career as a New York State Parole Officer in 1969.  He has served as co-chair of the American Bar Association Corrections Committee and has chaired the policy and resolutions committees of both the American Correctional Association and the Association of State Corrections Administrators. He has been a Commissioner of the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and is a member of the Advisory Board of the New York State Commission on Quality of Care for Persons with Disabilities established by the State’s SHU Exclusion Law. Horn has lectured and written extensively about matters of prison security and reform, sentencing, the use of social isolation in prisons, reentry and sentencing. Horn has testified before congressional committees and has been an expert consultant domestically and internationally and has been an expert witness on behalf of both plaintiffs and governmental clients.