Even as we speak, Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility is in the process of being mothballed. Camp Gabriels is in the news because that shuttered facility has failed to find a buyer.
Last session, the North Country’s lawmakers — local and state — managed to block closure of two more regional prisons, in Moriah and Ogdensburg.
In today’s Albany Times Union, however, corrections activist Robert Gangi argues that a much more aggressive plan is needed to close more prisons fast.
More ambitious plans to shut facilities have failed largely for political reasons. Concerned about the loss of jobs, the correction officers union and legislators from upstate areas where most of the prisons are located have successfully blocked most closure proposals made by the state’s past three governors: George Pataki, Eliot Spiter, and David Paterson.
Gangi argues that declining inmate populations signal the need for more cuts, and he seems to think that Andrew Cuomo will finally get the job done.
The week after his election, Andrew Cuomo toured Sing Sing prison and spoke to the press afterward. He cited New York’s declining prison population, calling it “good news.” He also strongly suggested that New York could no longer justify paying to keep open institutions whose employees “literally have no function.”
That was good news, too, and a significant signal that, on the prison downsizing front, New York’s next governor is determined to fulfill a major campaign promise by succeeding where his predecessors so tellingly failed.
What do you think? Time to close more prisons, or not? And what would that do to the economies of towns like Lyon Mountain, Gabriels, Moriah, Ogdensburg and Ray Brook?