NYS to close four more prisons

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On July 26, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) announced the closure of four additional prisons. This will bring the total number of prisons closed under Governor Cuomo’s watch to 13.

The state’s latest 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).

As always, the Correctional Association is supportive of prison closures.

However, a growing concern is that as the Governor continues with his trend of closing minimum- and medium-security prisons there will be fewer lower security facilities available to move people who are currently designated to maximum-security to, if their classifications are reviewed and reduced. State corrections controls the security classification of people in its custody, designating individuals with a security classification upon their admission to prison.  A more effective periodic review of incarcerated individuals’ classifications throughout the duration of their sentence could result in reduced security levels for many incarcerated people, effectively freeing up maximum-security prisons for closure.

By closing only minimum- and medium-security prisons, the Governor is ensuring that people imprisoned in maximum-security facilities will not have the important opportunity to adjust to a less restrictive environment before their release to the community, thereby making their successful re-entry more difficult. Of the 17 prisons designated for closure over the past five years, eight have been minimum-security facilities.

Closing only underutilized minimum- and medium-security prisons may be good politics for the Governor, but it is bad policy for New York State. The Correctional Association continues to urge Governor Cuomo to focus future prison closures on maximum-security prison facilities, such as Attica, which has long been plagued by a culture of violence, intimidation, and oppression.

 

 

The Correctional Association visited Mt. McGregor, one of the facilities slated for closure, in May 2010 to inspect conditions of confinement. Read our findings here.

 

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