CHATEAUGAY — While the state says the closure of four prisons, Chateaugay Correction Facility among them, is part of a plan to save money in light of shrinking inmate populations, the statewide prison union argues the move will aggravate overcrowding and put correction officers in danger.
“There has been a drastic decline in inmate population, due to a drop in the crime rate in New York State. Operating prisons with excess beds is expensive and a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci. “We are rightsizing the prison system and saving money.”
‘ASSET TO SYSTEM’
Chateaugay Correctional Facility is one of three medium-security facilities that will be closing on July 26 along with one shock facility.
Chateaugay Correctional Facility is unique among New York’s prisons, according to Chateaugay Town Supervisor Donald Bilow.
“We think it’s a real asset to the system because it helps to educate parole violators and integrate them back to society,” Bilow said. “It’s the only facility of its kind, I believe, in the state.”
Ninety-seven percent of staff employed at nine other prisons that have closed in the past few years were transitioned to other prisons, state agencies or retirement, DOCCS said in a news release.
‘SAFEST LARGE STATE’
DOCCS called New York the “safest large state in the country” in the release.
In the last decade, the crime rate in New York has dropped 13 percent, causing the inmate population to decrease about 25 percent, DOCCS said in a news release.
At it’s height in 1999, there were 71,600 inmates in New York, DOCCS said. Today, there are 54,200, the state agency said.
While the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) acknowledges that inmate populations are decreasing, closing more prisons will create a “severe safety risk” for prison employees, said James Miller, public relations director for NYSCOPBA.