Jul 29, 2013 — State Senator Betty Little says the loss of two state prisons in the North Country will mean a painful loss of jobs in Franklin and Saratoga Counties.
"Well it's a loss of jobs, which will be very difficult. But the fact remains that the inmate population continues to drop, as it does in the entire country."
State officials announced on Friday a plan to mothball a total of four state prisons, including Chateaugay and Mt. McGregor.
The Department of Correctional Services says the 430 prison guards working at those two facilities will have the opportunity to transfer to other state prisons.
The change comes as New York has seen a dramatic decline in the number of inmates — in part because of lower crime rates, and also because of changes to the Rockefeller drug laws.
Senator Little says those changes had a direct impact on the prison in Chateaugay.
"It was used for drug and alcohol rehab, but the number of people that are incarcerated on drug charges today has gone from 24,000 down to 7,000."
The Cuomo administration says closing these four prisons — including facilities in Schuyler and Wayne Counties — will save 30 million dollars a year.
According to Senator Little, these cutbacks will mean big changes for families and communities in the North Country that have long seen corrections work as a source of middle-class jobs.
"We have so many good people working in corrections in our area, its kind of a generational job. People who are correction officers whose parents were in corrections, relatives, you know it's been one of those stable good jobs in the North Country. And it was because no other part of the state wanted prisons."
These planned closures follow the shut-down of two other state prisons in the Adirondacks, in Gabriels and Lyon Mountain.
Donn Rowe, head of the state prison guards union, released a statement Friday calling this latest closure plan part of a "ceaseless attack" on corrections officers by the Cuomo administration.