CA responds to Governor Cuomo’s plans to close prisons

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On March 22, the Correctional Association brought 300 advocates to Albany to urge state leaders to close underutilized prisons and reform the state’s badly broken juvenile justice system. Less than one week later Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced their plans to close 3,700 prison beds and to shut down more than 30% of Office of Children and Family Services’ (OCFS) youth facilities. This represents the most significant commitment to date by elected officials to reduce the state’s excess prison capacity.

Closing prisons and juvenile facilities is long overdue. Our state’s juvenile justice system is currently operating at approximately 50% capacity; the adult prison population has dropped by over 15,000 people in the past decade; and the state system has nearly 8,000 empty beds maintained at enormous cost —one that our state literally can no longer afford.

The CA encourages state government officials to continue to build on and strengthen their impressive commitment. To ensure that New York continues to make communities safer, we urge the Governor and legislative leaders to reinvest funds saved by prison closures in community-based alternative-to-incarceration and reentry programs and needed services for incarcerated adults and children. Such reinvestment will maximize New York’s ability to reduce recidivism, decrease its prison population and maintain safe prisons.
Elected officials should seize this opportunity to improve the lives of children and families, increase public safety, and become national leaders for juvenile and criminal justice reform.