NYC Department of Correction
maintained by the
NY Correction History Society
in the archives at the
NYC Correction Academy.
The Winter 1991 Issue of Correction News
Below is the text of the front page article about the funeral mass for George R. Vierno, who died six months after concluding his 28-year career with Correction. He had served as Chief of Department and Acting Commissioner.
The article included reference to an announcement by Mayor Dinkins and Commissioner Sielaff that the new facility known as Beacon would be named in his memory.
On Page 2 of the issue appeared Sielaff's "Commissioner's Report" newsletter column. It discussed the department's role in the "Safe Streets, Safe City" program, implementation of the National Institute of Corrections' inmate classification system, updating of the Inmate Information System and Management Information Systems, and expansion of the High Impact Incarceration Program considered the nation's first urban boot camp for jail inmates.
Page 3 was devoted to holiday gifting visits at children's institutions. The back page of the four-page issue featured an extended essay on how DOC helps movie makers film jail scenes. A photo of the DOC movie support services unit -- headed by Special Events Director Sandy Smith -- accompanied the article.
"There will be a little less laughter in the world."
When the priest said those words at retired Chief George R. Vierno's funeral mass, it was as if he gave voice to what the hundreds of people crowded into the Staten Island church were themselves thinking at that very moment. Tears fell and heads nodded in agreement. Faint smiles of fondness could be seen on many faces.
In whatever way people gave conviction to that simple statement, it was a conviction that filled the church with a powerful emotion. Yes, there will be a little less laughter in the world, but George -- his laughter, his spirit, his energy -- will forever be with us.
Chief Vierno died on December 28 while shoveling snow at his home on Staten Island. He was 50 years old. A 28-year veteran of the Department, he began his career in the Department as a Correction Officer at the Manhattan House of Detention in 1962. In 1972, he was promoted to Captain and transferred to central office, where he was director of the inmate information system and later, director of the management information system.
In 1984, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Operations, where his skills in managing the housing needs of a fast-growing inmate population became legendary. Like a master tactician, he maneuvered the many components of the Department to produce a single result -- ensuring that sufficient beds were available to house inmates admitted to Correction custody. Because of his mastery at this vital task, he was known to many as "Mr. Correction."
In February, 1990, Mayor David N. Dinkins named Chief Vierno as Acting Correction Commissioner. When Commissioner Allyn R. Sielaff was officially appointed in March, Chief Vierno was promoted to Chief of Department. He retired in May.
In his memory, Mayor Dinkins and Commissioner Sielaff announced that the new 851-bed "Nursery Beacon" jail on Rikers Island would be designated as the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC).
In making his announcement, Mayor Dinkins said, "Chief Vierno was a dedicated and tireless public servant whose 28 years with the Correction Department were marked with distinction and honor. He was a noble spirit, a kind and warm man who was a consummate professional and a friend to all who knew him. I am pleased to honor his memory by designating this new jail in his name."
Commissioner Sielaff added, "George Vierno's sudden passing has touched the entire agency very deeply. He was a gentle man and a skilled administrator. His knowledge of the Department, his energy and enthusiasm for his work, have become a part of this Department's history. He will be greatly missed by us all."
The jail will be officially designated in a departmental ceremony being planned for the spring.
Chief Vierno is survived by his wife, Mary; a daughter, Stephanie, and a son, George Jr., also a correction officer.
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