in memory
of former

One tripod holds plaque honoring Donald Cranston; another holds big photo of him as COBA head.

New York City Correction Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik on June 7, 2000, dedicated the Judicial Center on Rikers Island in honor of former Correction Officers' Benevolent Association and Correction Captains Association President Donald J. Cranston,  the only person ever to have served as leader of both unions during his career with the NYC DOC. 

Donald J. Cranston's
NYC DOC career:
  • Appointed C.O. -- 3/2/64
  • COBA President - 1976/77
  • Promoted to Capt. - 7/19/77
  • CCA President - 1984/91
  • Retired - 8/11/91

"Don Cranston quietly achieved what no Correction labor leader had ever done before, serving as President of both the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association and the Correction Captains Association," Commissioner Kerik said. "Naming this Judicial Center then, which has quietly re-invented the way we can transport inmates through the courts, in honor of him, is only fitting."

The Judicial Center, located on Rikers Island, was opened in 1992 as an innovative effort between the Department and the courts of expediting inmates' cases and streamlining savings for the Department by cutting costs associated with transportation and unnecessary delays. 

NYC Correction Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, seated right, listens as Captain Mark J. Cranston delivers welcoming remarks at the dedication.
Once a week, a New York State Supreme Court Judge travels to the Island to hear cases, as in any state court.  Administrative law judges conduct parole hearings at the site as well.  The location is staffed with Correction Officers, attorneys and Office of Court'Administration personnel.

Joining the Commissioner at the dedication ceremony were Chief of Department William J. Fraser, Correction Officers' Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook, and Correction Captains Association President Peter Meringolo.

"This dedication is an honor, not only to the Cranston family, but to all the men and women of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association," said Norman Seabrook, President of COBA.  Peter Meringolo, President of the Correction Captains Association, said " "I would like to thank the Commissioner for remembering my predecessor with this dedication.  It represents a great tribute to a man who dedicated his life to bettering the lives of his fellow working men and women."

NYC DOC Ceremonial Unit performs the Presentation of Colors in front of covered Judicial Center sign.

Also attending the ceremony were Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, who presented a memorial plaque honoring Cranston on behalf of the PBA, New York City Councilmember Martin J. Golden, who presented a proclamation in Cranston's memory, and New York State Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio.

The printed program distributed to guests attending the ceremonies included the following brief biographical background information alongside a small version of the photo of Donald J. Cranston as COBA president, a large version of which was displayed on a tripod at the dedication site:

Donald J. Cranston
1937 - 1999

Donald J. Cranston was born September 18, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York. He devoted his entire adult career in service to the working men and women of the New York City Department of Correction. Cranston has the unique distinction of having been the only individual to have served as President of both the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association and of the Correction Captains Association during his career, which spanned 27 years with the Department.

CCA President Peter Meringolo addresses dedication audience.

Appointed as a Correction Officer in 1964, Cranston was first assigned to the Correctional Institution for Men. He also worked at the precursor to today's Special Operations Division on Rikers Island. It was during this time that Cranston first assumed a leadership position within the labor movement when he was elected President of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, after working his way up through the organization for many years.

In July 1977, Cranston was promoted to Captain and assigned to the Kings County Hospital Prison Ward where he served for several years. By 1984, Cranston was to reach the next level of his career in organized labor when he was elected President of the Correction Captains Association, a position he held for seven years. With this election, Cranston accomplished a feat never before, or since, accomplished by any individual: he was the only labor leader who could legitimately claim to have represented, at one time or another, almost the entire uniformed, non?appointive, civil service employee population of the New York City Correction Department.

Chief of Dept. William J. Fraser, left, and PBA President Patrick Lynch, right, PO Christopher Cranston and other officers join in unveiling the Judicial Center sign.

A graduate of the New York Institute of Technology with a degree in Criminal Justice/Behavioral Science, he was appointed by then?Governor Mario Cuomo to the State University of New York Advisory Council of Downstate Medical Center, and was the recipient of the Civil Service Merit Council Award in 1988.

Captain Cranston is survived by his wife, Regina, and their seven children; Maureen, Catherine, Donald jr., Michael, Mark, James, Christopher, and 11grandchildren. Mark Cranston is a Captain with the New York City Correction Department and Christopher Cranston is a Police Officer with the New York City Police Department.

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