Assembly Minority Conference members on the Committee on Correction penned an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Anthony J. Annuci, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, outlining the myriad detrimental impacts closing prison facilities will have on the state and the communities they serve. The letter also emphasized that the governor’s closing procedures have repeatedly fallen outside of the State Correction Law’s 12-month notification requirement.
Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Committee on Correction, Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda), and Minority committee members, Assemblymen Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) and Mark Walczyk (R,C,I-Watertown), pointed out in the letter that a notice of requirement is needed under Correction Law Section 79-a; the governor has repeatedly circumvented this measure in the past by placing prison closure language in the state budget.
Included with the letter, a white paper, “Prison Closures: Minority Member Report New York State Assembly Correction Committee,” enumerates the ways future closures will have long-reaching, negative impacts on the state. The paper highlights the devastating job loss and economic injury prison closures have had, and will continue to have, on the communities they serve.
“Prison closures are supposed to come with a 12-month notice, and for good reason; New York can no longer afford to take major steps backward in relation to public safety or economic prosperity. The impact created by closures comes with an enormous number of consequences. The hard-working and dedicated officers who work at these facilities, their families and the residents in the surrounding communities must have the proper amount of time to prepare,” said Giglio. “The governor has reduced a years’ worth of preparation into 60 to 90 days. This is both illegal and unfair.”
The Minority members on the Committee on Correction spoke at length with local businesses, prison staff and union members, among others, prior to presenting their findings and concerns.
“The governor continues to boast about the number of correctional facilities he has closed, but he fails to take responsibility for the dangerous, ‘powder-keg’ environment his closures and policies have created. Prison closures are already devastating enough to the employees, families and local communities, but fast-tracking these closures in 90 days just adds insult to injury, is cruel and shows a complete lack of respect for the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to work a very dangerous job to keep us safe. Although the Cuomo Administration always likes to claim employees will not lose their jobs, 90 days is clearly not enough time for families to uproot their lives, travel hours to get to work, find a new home and new schools for their kids. These personal hardships are compounded many times over by the destructive impact these closures have on the economic well-being of local communities,” said Palmesano.
“With a massive influx of cash from the federal government to help remedy budgetary concerns, there is simply no need to cut vital services that help keep our communities safe,” said Walczyk. “Moreover, the long-term fiscal impacts of these closures are going to be far more detrimental than any short-term savings the state might realize from them. Closing these prisons is ill-advised, plain and simple.”
A copy of the white paper can be found here.