Local News

January 20, 2010

2 local prisons doomed


"It's certainly going to be a loss and a tough time for the people who live in Lyon Mountain and the Town of Dannemora."

There are 91 people employed at Lyon Mountain, which housed 135 inmates at the start of the year.

By closing the facility, officials expect to save $7.2 million in annual operating costs and $950,000 in capital-project savings.


Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said that with the local economy already reeling from the closure of the Champlain Bridge, the announced shutdown of the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility could push things to the brink of disaster.

"I had the most disturbing call I've had in 21 years in office — the Governor's Office informed me they are going to close Moriah Shock," Scozzafava said Tuesday morning.

The impact on southern Essex County communities will be grave, Scozzafava said. He and other Essex County officials are pledging to fight the closure.

"They let our bridge fall apart," Scozzafava said. "Now they're going to take away our major employers. We need to fight this. This will devastate our community."

John Fariss, chief sector steward for New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association at Moriah Shock, said the news was sobering for staff to hear.

Moriah employs 102 people, with 63 of the positions in security.

Fariss said he was more surprised about the shock facility's closure because "we save the state money. Through the history of shock, we've saved the state $2 billion.

"Closing a shock facility does not seem very cost-effective. It's mind boggling."

Moriah is one of four shock programs in the state and the only in the tri-county region.

It has been open for 21 years and has a capacity to house 300 inmates, with 171 currently enrolled in the monthly program.


Fariss expects the closures will have a devastating impact on surrounding communities.

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