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Tower at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora (Source:  Wikipedia)
Tower at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora (Source: Wikipedia)

NY prisons "heavily reliant" on overtime work

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A new report issued this week finds that overtime pay in New York's prison system continues to grow. Prisons are one of the biggest employers in the North Country.

The study by the state Comptroller's office found that the Department of Correctional Services spent more than $160 million on overtime last year.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Click here to read the full Comptroller's report.

In most state agencies, overtime makes up a tiny fraction of the total money paid to employees.  But in New York's state prison system, the average Corrections officer works the equivalent of more than two weeks of extra shifts every year. 

In budget terms, that adds up fast.  In 2011, the Department of Corrections paid roughly $104 million in overtime to its workers.  By last year, that amount had jumped to $160 million. 

The Comptroller's report concluded that the prison system — along with a coupe of other state agencies — is "heavily reliant on overtime to meet agency responsibilities." 

This study comes at a time when the number of people working in New York's prisons has been dropping steadily — down roughly 1,000 employees over the last two years. 

Four more prisons, including two in the North Country, are being mothballed this year, though it's uncertain how many of the workers at those facilities will find positions elsewhere in the prison system.

NYSCOPBA, the state prison guard union, has argued that having fewer prisons and fewer corrections officers means more stress and less safety.   That's disputed by the Cuomo administration. 

Questions about this latest study were directed by prison officials to the Division of Budget, which declined to answer questions about how the amount of overtime affects prison workers or safety behind bars. 

Instead, budget spokesman Morris Peters released a prepared statement saying that the gradual increase in overtime pay statewide across all agencies is "dwarfed by the fact that overall payroll has decreased by nearly 750 million dollars during this administration."

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