Michael Hourihane, Top Uniformed Jail Official, To Retire

Michael Hourihane, the top uniformed official in the city Department of Corrections has put in his retirement papers, and is expected to step down at the end of the year, the Voice has learned.

Correction Commissioner Dora Schriro called Hourihane, who had served the department for 32 years, "the consummate public servant and correction professional."

Things have been bumpy for the DOC over the past year. The Justice Department is investigating guard violence against inmates. A rise in inmate assaults on each other, an $850,000 settlement in an inmate lawsuit, a raft of new litigation, and, as the Voice reported last spring, the creation of an anti-violence unit which may have crossed the line in disciplining inmates. But whether Hourihane's retirement had anything to do with any of those things remains unclear.

Schriro was very complimentary of her chief of department. "I am honored to have had the opportunity to promote Mike twice, first to the rank of Deputy Chief of Department and then to Chief of Department," she said. "He took on every challenge as its champion and served with excellence in every capacity.   I miss him already.  We all do."

During Hourihane's tenure, a second class action lawsuit was filed against the DOC for systemwide abuse of inmates by correction staff, said Jonathan Chasan, a lawyer with Legal Aid's Prisoners' Rights Project. The city has paid millions to settle brutality lawsuits over the past decade.

A source familiar with the move said it had nothing to do with any of those things. "He's been talking about retirement for a year, and it was just time to move on," the source said.

Hourihane's replacement has not been selected. The current No. 2 uniformed official in the department, Carmine LaBruzzo, has also had some bumps this year.

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