Gov. wants to shut down up to 3 NY state prisons
COs and some state lawmakers immediately criticized the plan
By Mark Weiner
Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he wants to shut down up to three state prisons by Labor Day, citing record declines in the state's prison population and crime rate.
Cuomo said he wants the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to recommend which of the state's 54 correctional facilities should be closed and how their staff and prison population should be transferred to other facilities.
Prison guards and some state lawmakers immediately criticized the plan, warning it will take an economic toll on some communities and make the remaining prisons less safe.
"This will unquestionably make our prisons more dangerous," said Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.
"It means consolidating the incarcerated into other prisons, making them overpopulated and increasing the risk of violent behavior," Powers said. "Violence at New York's correctional facilities is already at a historic high."
State Sen. Patty Ritchie, a Republican who represents a North Country district, vowed to fight to keep open the five prisons in the region.
"The five prisons in our region, and the jobs they support, are critical to our local communities and their economies," Ritchie said in a statement. She added, "In the North Country, every job counts. We don't have Amazon wanting to locate in our region -- nor do we have the opportunity to turn down the tens of thousands of jobs a project like that would support."
Cuomo defended the plan, noting that the state's prison population has declined by almost 17 percent since 2011, from 56,419 to 46,973 people. The governor said it's the lowest prison population in decades, down from a peak of 72,649 about 20 years ago.
The state has closed 24 prisons and juvenile detention centers since Cuomo took office eight years ago. He said the consolidation has saved about $162 million per year.
(c) 2019 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.