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The governor in Lake Placid this week.
The governor in Lake Placid this week.

State prison review continues: Essex County could be spared

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it'll be several weeks before his administration decides which of the state's prisons to close.

The governor has said six prisons could be closed.

That's causing anxiety across the North Country, where state prisons pump tens of millions of dollars into hard-pressed communities. Martha Foley has more. Chris Morris contributed reporting to this story.

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Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it’ll be several weeks before his administration decides which of the state’s prisons to close.

The governor has said six prisons could be closed.

That’s causing anxiety across the North Country, where state prisons pump tens of millions of dollars into hard-pressed communities.

In Lake Placid this week on his “People First” tour, the governor said the overall review of the corrections system is continuing.

 “We’re in the midst of the process now and we’ll be having decisions to announce in several weeks,” he said.

Earlier this month, a review of state records showed prisons running at about 88 percent capacity. It showed an excess of 8,000 beds throughout the state’s 67 correctional facilities. The governor wants to eliminate some 3,700 beds.

Lawmakers scrambled to save the Ogdensburg Correctional facility and the Moriah Shock camp in last ditch budget deals last year.  

Rumors are circulating that the boot-camp style prison could be on the chopping block  again – along with the Adirondack Correctional Facility in Ray Brook.

But Randy Douglas, who chairs the Essex County Board of Supervisors, says he’s confident the two facilities will remain open.

 “We’ve had no inclination from the governor’s staff or the governor’s office that any of the two jails in Essex County – Adirondack Correctional or Moriah Shock – will be on the hit list this time around,” Douglas said.

According to Douglas, Gov. Cuomo understands how important those prison jobs are for the North County’s economic health and well-being.

“Keep it in mind that the governor has visited Essex County over the last year, even when he was campaigning for this job, and he realized our issues here and that people rely on these jobs and that helps our economy,” he said. “We certainly don’t want people moving out of Essex County to relocate their families for another job at a public facility or correctional facility.”

Corrections officials argue that Cuomo’s number on excess prison beds can be misleading.

According to the Department, about 2,500 open beds are known as “restricted vacancies,” meaning they need to be kept open for prisoners affected by illness, mental health issues, or those considered a security risk.

And another 1,700 beds need to be available in case of fluctuations in the prison population.

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