Assemblyman Giglio: Closing Prisons Is No Plan for a Safe Future for New Yorkers

Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda), Assembly Minority Ranking Member on the Corrections Committee, called the plans by Gov. Kathy Hochul to close six facilities in the New York state prison system in March 2022 “a disastrous leap forward down the path forged by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.”

The six facilities slated for closure are: Southport Correctional Facility, Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, Rochester Correctional Facility, Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, Downstate Correctional Facility and Willard Drug Treatment Campus.

“It is unconscionable to put the public in such danger now, as courts are finally opening after the pandemic closure and cases are being heard, bringing criminals to trial and into custody and serving sentences where they can no longer harm innocent citizens,” Giglio said.

“Prison population numbers are artificially low right now and the closure of these facilities – two of which are maximum security or higher – is essentially handing the state over to criminals. This is a premature and dangerous step,” said Giglio.

“This state began a terrible policy several years ago of putting the interests of violent offenders above the safety of the public and prison workers. By closing more facilities and combining populations, our officers and prison staff are at greater risk of injury at the hands of violent offenders in cramped conditions. Attacks on officers have doubled over the past ten years in the wake of more than 20 facility closures in that same timeframe. Not only are officers at greater risk, but inmate-on-inmate violence has increased with the closure of these prisons.

“Additionally, the closure of prisons is a death sentence to communities across the state that provides jobs for correction officers and support staff. Hailed as cost-saving measures, prison closures leave crumbling facilities, vacant homes, increased unemployment and changes in infrastructure needs and tax base. A prison closure is so much more than moving prisoners from one facility to another.

“This is no plan for the future, as the streets become more dangerous and violent with the recent changes to the criminal justice laws enacted in this state. It is time to carefully rethink, rebuild and reorganize the criminal justice system in New York State. Recent so-called reforms that release offenders to the streets and close correctional facilities which keep perpetrators from repeating their crimes do nothing to achieve that goal,” Giglio concluded.