FISHKILL, N.Y. (WETM) — The maximum-security Downstate Correctional Facility is among six New York correctional facilities scheduled to close on March 10. Located in Dutchess County, Downstate currently employs 644 staff and houses 688 male inmates.
According to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the five other facilities set to close that day are Moriah Shock, Ogdensburg, Southport, Rochester, and Willard Correctional. The union says the closures are due to a measure in the New York State budget “to close state prisons as the incarcerated population continues to decline and as a fiscally prudent and safe way to save taxpayer dollars.”
The facilities set to close were chosen “based on a variety of factors, including physical infrastructure, program offerings, facility security level, specialized medical and mental health services, proximity of other facilities in the area to minimize the impact to staff, potential re-use options and areas of the state where prior closures have occurred in order to minimize the impact to communities. Consideration of the impact of the recently enacted HALT and Less Is More legislation was also weighed.”
We will be able to safely absorb the incarcerated population into vacant beds available at other institutions and … Elmira Correctional Facility (Chemung County) will expand its reception footprint to absorb the incoming who would have first gone to Downstate Correctional Facility.
As of Monday, the total incarcerated population in New York state correctional facilities is 31,469. According to DOCCS, this represents both a total reduction in excess of 12,700 individuals since Jan. 1, 2020, and the lowest total incarcerated population in New York State prisons since 1984. New York reportedly leads the nation with the lowest imprisonment rate of any large state.
Downstate Correctional Facility opened in 1979. Today, the facility’s primary purpose is the reception and classification of new inmates entering the system. In 2016, three correctional officers were charged with torturing an inmate at Downstate, using his hair as decorations, and faking injuries to justify the attack. Two others were charged with filing false reports.