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Franklin County legislator Billy Jones calls for action to stop the closure of Chateaugay Correctional Facility in his home town. NCPR file Photo: Brian Mann
Franklin County legislator Billy Jones calls for action to stop the closure of Chateaugay Correctional Facility in his home town. NCPR file Photo: Brian Mann

Rally to save prisons today in Albany

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A rally is planned for later this morning in Albany to protest the planned closure of four state prisons across New York, including Chateaugay and Mt. McGregor here in the North Country.

Local leaders face tough choices in the weeks ahead. They're still fighting to save local prisons, and the jobs and economic funds that come with correctional facilities.

But they're also hoping to work with the Cuomo administration to win millions of dollars in redevelopment funds.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Billy Jones from Chateaugay heads the Frankly county board of legislators and he plans to speak at the rally.  He says he hopes Governor Andrew Cuomo is hearing local concerns about the closures.

"I think he's sensitive towards it.  I think we can make the argument that Chateaugay Correctional helps the state of New York, helps the recidivism rate," he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made downsizing prisons a major part of his first term.  Shown here delivering his State of the State address on Jan. 9, 2013. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/57782386@N06">Gov. Cuomo's office</a>
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made downsizing prisons a major part of his first term. Shown here delivering his State of the State address on Jan. 9, 2013. Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office
Chateaugay and Mt. McGregor are slated to close in July.  The Cuomo administration has described the shut-down as part of a common-sense cost-cutting measure as inmate numbers have declined. 

Despite months of pressure, Cuomo himself has stuck to his plan to cut the state's prison system, describing the effort this way during his state of the state address in January.

"We are reducing the madness of an incarceration society and ending a system of unnecessary human and financial waste," Cuomo argued, boasting that 5,500 prison beds had been eliminated so far.

Community leaders meeting in Chateaugay to orchestrate fight to save the state correctional facility. NCPR file Photo: Brian Mann
Community leaders meeting in Chateaugay to orchestrate fight to save the state correctional facility. NCPR file Photo: Brian Mann
Billy Jones from Chateaugay says local leaders face a complicated moment; they're still fighting to save their local prison, but they're also preparing to fight for economic re-development funds if Chateuagay Correctional is mothballed.

"We have to go with a two-pronged attack," Jones said.  "We're not giving up, we're going to fight to have it open—but help with the financial piece will be crucial."

Today's rally begins at the state Capitol at 11:30 am Prison workers and supporters from across the North Country are riding to the event on buses this morning.

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