Friday, 26 July 2013 15:57

Gov. Cuomo Announces Closure of Four Security Facilities, Including Mt. McGregor


NEW YORK STATE – It was announced Friday afternoon by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision July 26 that the agency plans to shut down four security facilities over the next year to save an estimated $30 million.

From the department’s statement:

The State’s closure plan includes one minimum security facility: Monterey Shock (Schuyler County), and three medium security facilities: Butler (Wayne County), Chateaugay (Franklin County) and Mt. McGregor (Saratoga County). The dramatic reduction in drug offenders has resulted in shrinking populations at these prisons. A number of years ago a large portion of the Shock Incarceration population was comprised of drug offenders. Monterey was the Department’s first Shock facility. At one time both Chateaugay and Butler were used as alcohol and substance abuse treatment facilities to provide a special program for addicted offenders. Mt. McGregor was also once used to house a significant number of drug offenders. Now however, with the changing demographics of the inmate population and the steep decline in imprisoned drug offenders, these facilities no longer fulfill the same Department need they once did.

The closure plan proposes preventing layoffs by transitioning employees to other facilities. Since most of the prisons slated for closure have other correctional facilities relatively nearby, employees will be transferred to those facilities. In some cases, employees will actually be able to move closer to home. For those with geographic restrictions, the state will work with the Department of Civil Service to facilitate employment opportunities in other agencies. The one-year advance notification will allow for a gradual transition and more options for affected employees as other funded positions within the Department become vacant during the next twelve months. In addition, this efficiency plan calls for a limited number of medium security dormitories, previously closed, to reopen. This will provide further options for employees currently working at the facilities designated for closure. As of July 22, 2013, there were 549 staffed vacancies within the Department’s network of medium security correctional facilities.

The announcement has already received some negative reactions from public officials, including Senator Kathy Marchione (R,C-Halfmoon), who is opposed to the plan:

“Today’s announcement by the Cuomo Administration that the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility has been targeted for closure is disappointing and demands an action plan – and actual follow through – that will ensure the public safety professionals working at the facility are protected and the financial needs of the host community are met. The Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility has 320 dedicated public safety professionals and is an important part of the local economy. Realizing short-term cost savings at the long term expense of upstate is no bargain; we need a practical, sustainable plan for economic development that will address the closure of this facility and ensure the host community doesn’t suffer from the loss of jobs and revenue. I have already been in contact with Wilton Town Supervisor Art Johnson and NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe, and will work closely with them to make certain that the local community and correctional employees are not forgotten – and that the state makes good on what should be a promise of support and fair treatment.”

Donn Rowe, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, also offered an emotional response to the announcement:

“The action taken today by Governor Cuomo – calling for the closure of four more state correctional facilities – is extraordinary. Governor Cuomo has taken the legislature out of a decision making process in what is principally a budgetary action.

“More alarmingly, it’s an irresponsible approach to managing a budget within an agency that is designed for public safety. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision attempts to create the illusion that the state system is rife with empty beds, but this is only made possible by double-bunking inmates. Instead of taking the opportunity to right–size the system – and make it safer for corrections officer and inmates – the state continues to warehouse inmates by double–bunking and maintaining crowded and understaffed facilities.

“If these four facilities close, that will bring the total to 15 facility closures since Governor Cuomo took office. This ceaseless attack on the hard working men and women of NYSCOPBA has led to a more dangerous working environment, putting our members at greater risk of grave injury every day.

“After spending the summer campaigning in upstate New York to demonstrate how much progress the economy has made, the Governor is choosing to quietly announce on a Friday that he is going to put almost 700 upstate New Yorkers out of work in one year. Enough is enough. These facilities are critical to the communities they serve, and all of New York will suffer as a consequence of these decisions.”



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