Cuomo’s Prison Closure Proposal Near-Criminal

Another week another bad policy decision by Gov. Cuomo, and Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I,Ref-Schoharie) warns of the governor’s plan to overwork correction officers by closing 3 prisons. According to the Governor, this plan would save the governor $35 million to close the glaring budget gap while in actuality dealing a massive blow to the upstate economy. All told the closure would be stressing an already overburdened prison system by making them both more crowded and harder to manage.

“This is simply outlandish,” Tague said. “In his scramble to patch the holes in his budget, Gov. Cuomo is attacking already-stressed prisons. In a year dominated by his convict-friendly policies, from free tablets to pardons, he’s now going to be endangering the lives of our correction officers while making their jobs significantly more difficult. We’ve seen a marked increase in gang activity behind bars coupled with an increase in positive drug screenings, why the governor picks now to make their jobs more difficult I can’t understand. He’s already disarmed correction officers by limiting their ability to discipline their charges and now he’s going to jam prisoners even closer together.

“With these concerns, who knows how many of these inmates are going to be released early back out into the public, making the streets unsafe for the law abiding citizen. There are public safety concerns that go well beyond the prisons and correction officers that impact all of us.

“That doesn’t even begin to tackle the number of sexual assaults that occur in prison of which assaults to both inmate-on-staff and inmate-on-inmate have increased by 50 percent. I find it appalling that this is the way the governor wants to fix the massive hole in his budget. Our correction officers need relief, not greater stress, they work too hard in one of the most difficult and demanding positions one could have. We need to stand with them, but instead Gov. Cuomo is forcing them into a terrible situation week by week.”

“The statistics do not lie, our state prisons are as dangerous as they have ever been, with inmate–on–staff assaults, inmate-on-inmate assaults and seized contraband at historic levels despite a decrease in the inmate population. Closing more prisons and consolidating inmates into other facilities will cause the remaining prisons to be overpopulated and more dangerous,” said Mike Powers, President of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

“Not to mention that this will also devastate three New York communities with the stroke of a pen. Our officers’ families and their communities will be forever and irreversibly turned upside down. Countless local mom and pop stores, vendors, restaurants, community and jail support groups, just to name a few, will be upended overnight. It goes without saying local governments will suffer dramatically as their tax base will disappear.”