Looking at the cost of closing state prisons

Local

There is concern about the impact of Governor Cuomo’s plan to close three state prisons. It’s part of his effort to help balance a budget that’s $2.3 Billion  in the hole.

The Governor said it would depend on which facilities close, but he’s estimating an annual savings of at least $35 million.

Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has closed 24 state prisons and juvenile detention centers. That’s more than any Governor in state history. He said with a shrinking inmate population and pummeling crime rates, the need for facilities is decreasing.

Numbers released by his administration show that when Cuomo was elected, there were 56,419 inmates.At last check, there are roughly 46,972. That’s a 16.7 percent reduction. The administration says it’s the lowest level in 30 years.

Currently, there are still 54 correctional facilities operating across the state. The Governor said it will be up to the DOCCS to determine which facilities should close.

The Correctional Officer’s Union is condemning the Governor’s proposals.

The President of New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association issued a statement suggesting that this would make prisons more dangerous for both inmates and staff:

Once again, New York is putting its residents at risk by proposing to close more prisons. This will unquestionably make our prisons more dangerous. It means consolidating the incarcerated into other prisons, making them overpopulated and increasing the risk of violent behavior. Violence at New York’s correctional facilities is already at a historic high.

He also said some of the Governor’s Administration’s numbers are misleading.

The Administration will inevitably attribute closures to the number of open beds in the corrections system, but that’s a misleading argument to say the least. Here is the real story. The State continues the dangerous, archaic and borderline cruel practice of double bunking. If the State simply agreed to stop cramming incarcerated individuals together into double bunks like sardines, the number of open beds in the system would diminish substantially. Our officers and advocates for incarcerated persons agree: the State needs to end the inhumane practice of double bunking immediately.

Powers added that the closures would undoubtedly devastate the three New York communities surrounding the three chosen facilities:

Our officers’ families and their communities will be forever and irreversibly turned upside down. Countless local mom and pop stores, vendors, restaurants, community and jail support groups, just to name a few, will be upended overnight. It goes without saying local governments will suffer dramatically as their tax base will disappear. Closures mean destroying the fabric of our officers’ communities, and eviscerating local jobs, local tax base and the local economy. We urge New Yorkers to reject this plan outright. Considering yesterday’s news of Amazon cancelling its plans, it seems implausible the Administration would announce such a devastating community and job-killing effort just 24 hours later.

The Governor said the employees would have the option of transferring to another facility.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision would be directed to cease facility operations no later than September 1, 2019.
 

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