Biographies of the Commissioners
Thomas A. Beilein was appointed Chairman of the Commission of Correction by Governor Paterson and unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate on Aug. 8, 2008. Chairman Beilein holds the distinction of being the only former sheriff in the history of the Commission to serve as chair. His experience as the Niagara County Sheriff from 1994 to 2008 – which includes running a jail with an average daily population of 450 – is unique in the annals of Commission history.
Chairman Beilein comes to Albany with a wealth of law enforcement and administrative experience. He has worked as a correction officer, road patrol officer, investigator and administrator.
A Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Army Commendation Medal for Outstanding Service, Mr. Beilein served as a medic in Germany, Vietnam and at Fort Knox, Kentucky for four years before his honorable discharge in 1968. Shortly thereafter, he began what would be a 40-year career in law enforcement when he was appointed a deputy with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy Beilein worked as a correction officer in the jail and on the road patrol until he was transferred to the Niagara County Drug Task Force in 1976. He was reassigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in 1984, promoted to Senior Investigator in 1986 and promoted again to Chief Investigator in 1988. In 1990, he was again promoted, this time to Inspector, with responsibilities including the Criminal Bureau, the Welfare Fraud Bureau, Juvenile Aid and the Drug Task Force.
In 1993, he was elected Sheriff. As Sheriff, Mr. Beilein led a 340-member full service law enforcement agency responsible for public safety in a region of 270 square miles, emergency services, correctional services and civil law enforcement services. Sheriff Beilein was re-elected three times and held the position for 14 years.
Chairman Beilein attended Niagara County Community College. He also has comprehensive and specialized training and experience in all aspects of law enforcement including major case management, criminal investigations, drug investigations, juvenile aid, welfare fraud, victims assistance, domestic violence, correctional management and police administration.
The Chairman is the married father of four, and grandfather of seven. He has been a member of the New York State Sheriffs’Association, National Sheriff's Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, American Jail Association and American Correctional Association. In 2000, then-Sheriff Beilein was ecognized as “Leader of the Year” by Leadership Niagara.
Deaths are investigated by the forensic unit, and cases are presented to the Medical Review Board (MRB), which is chaired by Commissioner Phyllis Harrison-Ross M.D. Recommendations for changes to a facility’s medical procedures to assure that problems leading up to a death are handled differently in the future are made by the Medical Review Board when deemed appropriate.
With more than 35 years in the Community Mental Health profession, Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross presents a remarkably diverse career as a Hospital Clinical Administrator, Researcher, Academician, Public Health Consultant, Forensic and Child Psychiatrist and Public Educator. Trained as an Adult and Child Psychiatrist as well as a Pediatrician, she continues to lend her administrative and clinical talents to serving the diverse, hard-to-reach and underserved populations.
From start-up in 1973 to 1999, Dr. Harrison-Ross was at the helm of the Metropolitan Hospital Community Mental Health Center as its Director and Chief of Psychiatry. In addition she was the Associate Medical Director of Metropolitan Hospital and President of the Medical Board. She led a multi-disciplinary staff of over 600. This municipal Psychiatric Center serves a population of 1 million persons in the Midtown, Upper East Side and Harlem areas of Manhattan and provides adult and child mental health services in in-patient, ambulatory, clinic, and community settings. Additional programs under her jurisdiction included Drug, Alcoholism and AIDS Treatment; Psychiatric Community Support Services; Education and Consultation Services for Police, Court and Prison personnel; and multiculturally focused Medical Education, Training and Research.
Since 9/11, 2001, she has immersed herself in interfaith disaster mental health services and currently serves as president of a national organization of clinicians and interfaith-based leaders, All Healers Mental Health Alliance, and as a Trustee and Chairperson of the Social Service Board of the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
In 1976, Dr. Harrison-Ross was appointed by Governor Rockefeller to serve as a psychiatrist on the Medical Review Board of the New York State Commission of Correction. She was re-appointed by subsequent Governors, and was appointed by Governor Paterson in 2008 as a Member of the Commission and Chair of the Medical Review Board, her present position.
She has authored two books and co-authored several textbook chapters and articles on prison health, most recently regarding the fastest growing incarcerated group, i.e. women prisoners.
No stranger to the Media, Dr. Harrison-Ross, was Moderator of her own parent-education television series "All About Parents" in the early 1970s. Currently, she co-hosts a radio talk show, "Ethics on the Air" and is a member of the editorial advisory board of the New York Amsterdam News.
She is a distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a former president of the Black Psychiatrists of America, and also served as an elected member of the Governing Council of the American Hospital Association.
She received the American Psychiatric Association's Solomon Carter Fuller Award for distinguished service to improve the lives of Black people in 2004. The All Healers Mental Health Alliance received an award for Public Health Leadership at the American Public Health Association in November 2007 for work AHMHA has done to bring hope and healing to disaster survivors following the World Trade Center 9/11, Katrina and Rita hurricane disasters including the integrating of the use of various telehealth solutions into the recovery strategies.
Dr. Harrison-Ross is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services at the New York Medical College.