DOCS’ Prison Closure Plan Falls Victim to Albany Politics
As a longtime advocate for reducing New York’s prison population and capacity, the CA welcomed a Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) announcement in January stating its intent to close four state prisons. Unfortunately, the governor and state legislative leaders restored funding for the facilities in the State’s final approved budget. Like the Office of Children and Family Services–which the same day announced its own plans to close six juvenile facilities–DOCS cited underutilization as a driving force behind its plan.
New York’s prison population has declined by about 13% since 1999, and the closures promised to save the state over $70 million over the next two years, while maintaining positions for current DOCS employees. The CA also approved of DOCS’ pledge to divert cost-savings to services that prepare people in prison for a healthy and crime-free return to society, such as mental health services, re-entry initiatives, and programs that help incarcerated people maintain family ties.
Concerned about job losses in upstate communities–in spite of DOCS’ promise not to cut personnel–local politicians, the correction officers union, and the State Senate’s leadership insisted on keeping the institutions open. Determined to pass an on-time budget–a goal they ultimately failed to achieve–the governor and Assembly leadership acceded to this pressure. Considering New York’s budget difficulties, forcing DOCS to continue operating its underutilized facilities makes little fiscal sense and raises serious moral concerns.
“In restoring funding for the facilities, New York, in effect, openly supports a jobs program based on the warehousing of human beings,” said CA Executive Director Bob Gangi. “Governor Paterson missed an opportunity–he permitted political considerations to trump his conscience. Next time we expect him to reverse that principle.”
CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons
(January 9, 2016) New York, NY: The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. It is now up to the members of both parties in the NYS Legislature to do their duty to make this a reality. In spite of the Governor’s assertion that the "nation looks to NY to find a way up," we actually fall behind 48 other states, along with North Carolina, by continuing to treat children as adults in the criminal legal system. New York must Raise the Age of criminal responsibility this legislative session. Read More
ALBANY – Groups frustrated at the state’s unyielding attitude toward releasing some inmates has urged the Board of Parole to go further with new regulations meant to produce more favorable parole determinations. The proposed regulations would base inmate release decisions more on prospective risk to the public and less on the nature of the crime [...]Read More