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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

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
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

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.  Go to full article
Inside the Capitol. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stgermh/">Holley St. Germain</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Inside the Capitol. Photo: Holley St. Germain, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

No consensus on prison college plan in Assembly

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed plan to fund college education for prison inmates doesn't have a consensus in the state Assembly, Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday.

"It's always good to look at reducing recidivism," said Silver, who said he personally supports the governor's proposal. "Many of our members support this, and there are others who have expressed reservations."

The Speaker says he'll discuss the issue in a closed-door party conference in the coming weeks.  Go to full article
Gov. Cuomo taking questions from reporters, February, 2014. NCPR File Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/12721921383/">Gov. Cuomo's office</a>, via Flickr
Gov. Cuomo taking questions from reporters, February, 2014. NCPR File Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office, via Flickr

Cuomo's prison college plan sparks bipartisan backlash

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made prison reform a centerpiece of his first term, closing prisons, calling for changes to sentencing laws for sixteen- and seventeen-year olds, and cutting the use of solitary confinement. But his latest proposal, a plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund college education behind bars, has sparked a bipartisan backlash.

Cuomo says the idea will save money over time, but many lawmakers say it's unfair to law-abiding citizens who struggle to send their kids to college.  Go to full article
NYCLU says this kind of solitary confinement cell is widely used in New York's prisons, including Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone. Source: NYCLU
NYCLU says this kind of solitary confinement cell is widely used in New York's prisons, including Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone. Source: NYCLU

NY will limit solitary confinement time for prison inmates

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to sweeping changes to the way state prisons use solitary confinement. The deal was prompted by a federal lawsuit filed by critics who say thousands of inmates, some of whom are pregnant or have mental illness, are being held for months and even years in isolation, often for minor infractions.

The deal will end the use of solitary confinement for the most vulnerable inmates, and will also mean strict limits on the length of time an inmate can be locked away.

The lawsuit focused in part on inmates housed at Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, but will affect disciplinary procedures at a dozen state prisons across the North Country.  Go to full article
Rep. Chris Collins (R) NY-27. Photo: official portrait
Rep. Chris Collins (R) NY-27. Photo: official portrait

GOP Rep.: bar federal money for prison college

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) A Republican congressman from the Buffalo area says he will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of federal money to provide college courses for convicted criminals.

The promised legislation from U.S. Rep. Chris Collins comes days after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a program to offer associate's and bachelor's degree education at 10 state prisons. Cuomo says it will reduce the likelihood of inmates returning to crime.  Go to full article
Glades Correctional Institution inmates reading in the prison library, Belle Glade, Florida, 1975. Photo: Tom McLendon.
Glades Correctional Institution inmates reading in the prison library, Belle Glade, Florida, 1975. Photo: Tom McLendon.

Prison college education is returning to New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a new plan to bring college education back into New York prisons. Cuomo's new initiative will offer college level education at ten New York State prisons, one in each region of the state, though the prisons haven't yet been identified.  Go to full article

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