Press-Republican

Local News

December 13, 2013

Ad campaign targets prison closure

CHATEAUGAY — The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association has taken the fight to save Chateaugay Correctional Facility to the airwaves.

The union on Thursday released a new statewide radio spot as part of a media campaign opposing the state’s plans to close Chateaugay and other upstate prisons, mental-health facilities and developmental centers.

The NYSCOPBA ad is airing in Plattsburgh, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse and Watertown.

“This is blatantly false advertising to protect taxpayer-funded facilities that are half empty,” Rich Azzopardi, spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said of the ad.

In July, the state announced plans to close four prisons: Chateaugay in Franklin County, Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County, Butler in Wayne County and Monterey Shock in Schuyler County.

Area government leaders have vowed to fight the closure and have held local support rallies.

The state has said that shutting down the prisons would save money because inmates can move to other facilities without causing overcrowding.

NYSCOPBA says about 675 correction officers and 4,000 mental-health-care providers will be affected by the statewide closures.

But the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has said the 110 or so employees at Chateaugay can be assimilated into other prisons without any job losses.

PSYCHIATRIC CARE

The Cuomo administration also plans to end inpatient service at nine psychiatric centers statewide and close four state-run centers for the developmentally disabled.

“These closures will force families to travel to distant regional centers for mental-health services and leave many of the developmentally disabled without access to proper care,” NYSCOPBA said in its news release.

“Unilaterally closing essential prisons and mental-health facilities upstate will not only exacerbate a public-safety crisis in the state, but it will force hardworking officers to choose between their jobs and their families,” NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe said in a statement.

“Since Governor (Andrew) Cuomo took office, 11 facilities have already been closed, and hundreds of officers are waiting for transfers within a daily commuting distance of their homes throughout the state.

“This short-sighted plan will fail the public by making our institutions more overcrowded and dangerous.”

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.com

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