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Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July.  File photo.  Brian Mann
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July. File photo. Brian Mann

Chateaugay prison closure will hurt local business, town supervisor says

The town of Chateaugay in northern Franklin County is still reeling from news that their local correctional facility will close in July of this year. That news was confirmed last week in the budget deal hammered out in Albany.

Don Bilow, Chateaugay town supervisor, says the prison closure will hurt the community's wider business community.  Go to full article

Call-in: the future of the North Country prison industry

Guests include Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess, a former inmate who spent time in North Country prisons and now works as a youth counselor and activist. We also hear from Donn Rowe, head of NYSCOPBA, the prison guard union, who has fought to keep North Country prisons open. And we hear from Donald Bilow, a town supervisor from Chateaugay, where the prison is due to close in July.

Prison Time Media Project reporters Brian Mann and Natasha Haverty, and NCPR News Director Martha Foley, along with guests take calls and questions from listeners.  Go to full article
Brian Fischer led New York's corrections department for seven years from 2007 until 2013, a time when nine state prisons were mothballed.  Photo:  Brian Mann
Brian Fischer led New York's corrections department for seven years from 2007 until 2013, a time when nine state prisons were mothballed. Photo: Brian Mann

The man who led a revolution inside NY prisons

For decades, New York has maintained one of the largest -- and fastest growing -- prison systems in the country.

At its peak, more than seventy thousand men and women were held in state correctional facilities, many on lengthy mandatory drug sentences.

But over the last few years, the prison system has begun to shrink dramatically, with thirteen facilities closed or in the process of shutting down.

That quiet revolution was led in large part by former Corrections commissioner Brian Fischer, who stepped down last year after seven years in the post.  Go to full article
At a rally in March, workers from Chateaugay Correctional Facility protested the Cuomo administration's decision to close the prison in July. Photo provided by NYSCOPBA.
At a rally in March, workers from Chateaugay Correctional Facility protested the Cuomo administration's decision to close the prison in July. Photo provided by NYSCOPBA.

How America's drug war sparked the North Country prison boom

This week, North Country Public Radio is looking in-depth at how New York's 40-year prison boom changed two very different neighborhoods, Brownsville in New York City and Chateaugay in Franklin County. Check out these stories and many more in our Prison Time Media Project.

This week, the tiny North Country town of Chateaugay learned that their local prison -- operated by the state Corrections Department -- will close in July.

The decision was made final in New York's state budget.

Town supervisor Donald Bilow told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican that he is "devastated" by the closure.  Go to full article
Aaron Hinton, outside his building in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He calls the war on drugs "the war on the poor." Photo: Natasha Haverty
Aaron Hinton, outside his building in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He calls the war on drugs "the war on the poor." Photo: Natasha Haverty

What if 10 percent of your neighbors went to prison downstate?

The North Country has more than a dozen state and federal prisons, housing thousands of inmates. It turns out a lot of those inmates come from just a few neighborhoods, and those have been at the center of the 40-year drug war. Today, Brownsville, Brooklyn has one of the highest concentrations of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people in the country.  Go to full article
Martha Foley, left, with Natasha Haverty and Brian Mann, talk about the Prison Time Media Project.
Martha Foley, left, with Natasha Haverty and Brian Mann, talk about the Prison Time Media Project.

North Country prison industry transforming, shrinking

Over the last sixteen months, North Country Public Radio has broadcast a series of stories, reports and interviews looking at America's era of mass incarceration.

The 40-year drug war sent millions of Americans to prison. And it transformed the North Country as more than a dozen state and federal prisons were built in our back yards.

This week, we're wrapping up the first part of the series by looking at two communities transformed by the drug war: Chateaugay in northern Franklin County, which is currently fighting to save a local prison, and Brownsville, in New York City, a community that has seen a generation of men sent away to prison.

We'll start this special week with the two journalists who've done the work for the series, Brian Mann and Natasha Haverty. They have logged hundreds of miles and many hundreds of hours researching, reporting and producing our stories.  Go to full article
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July.  File photo.  Brian Mann
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July. File photo. Brian Mann

Budget deal closes two North Country prisons

A budget deal worked out over the weekend appears to lock in plans to mothball two North Country prisons, including facilities in Chateuagay in Franklin County and Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County.

According to a report in the Auburn Citizen newspaper, a total of four prisons statewide will be closed in July.

Prison guards and local officials from the North Country rallied earlier this month in Albany, demanding that Governor Cuomo keep at least some of the correctional facilities open.  Go to full article
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar

Five Mualimm-ak: A voice out of solitary confinement

Last month, the state of New York made sweeping changes to its use of solitary confinement. The new policy, signed by a federal judge, prohibits anyone under the age of 18, women who are pregnant, and people with severe mental illness, from being locked away in solitary.

Five Mualimm-ak helped write the new protocol. He's a prison reform activist. Mualimm-ak spent five years of his life in solitary confinement, out of 12 years he served inside New York prisons on charges that were later overturned. He was in Canton last week for talks and events at St. Lawrence University, and sat down with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
Five Omar Mualimmak spent nearly five years in a solitary confinement cell. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/m_at/8566414982/">Matthew Thompson</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Five Omar Mualimmak spent nearly five years in a solitary confinement cell. Photo: Matthew Thompson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Prison reform advocate will speak in Canton tonight

St. Lawrence University is hosting a series of events this month aimed at opening up a public conversation about the prison system.

Last night was the first: Five Omar Mualimmak spoke to a lecture hall full of students and community members, about his near five years in solitary confinement, on charges that were later overturned. He also talked about his work to reform the system, and the art he created in prison.  Go to full article
Corrections officers from the North Country rallied in Albany on Tuesday, protesting closure of Chateaugay Correctional Facility Photo:  Gary Carlsen, NYSCOPBA, used with permission
Corrections officers from the North Country rallied in Albany on Tuesday, protesting closure of Chateaugay Correctional Facility Photo: Gary Carlsen, NYSCOPBA, used with permission

Guards rally in Albany to block NY prison closures

Hundreds of prison guards, many from the North Country, rallied yesterday outside the Capitol in Albany, demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo cancel a plan to mothball four state prisons in July.

The closure list includes two state prisons in the North Country, Chateaugay Correctional Facility in northern Franklin County, and Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County.  Go to full article

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