15 Comments on “Video: Debating the closure of another North Country prison”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    If you want to save your local prison, go out and commit as serious crime. Your neighbors will be grateful. A grateful nation will thank you.

  2. It is interesting to hear all these politicians, normally patting themselves on the back for being “fiscally conservative” and yammering on about smaller government and less spending, rallying to keep bigger government and more spending.

  3. Two Cents says:

    who are you, and ill tell you what you want to hear. pay no heed to what I said to the others

  4. Paul says:

    Pete, you could also just refuse to pay your taxes and then try and squat in the house.


  5. Mervel says:

    I think the tide may be against them this time.

    In general there is a mood in the country and I think correctly, that we just lock too many people up for too long. Its not good for the local prison economy and I don’t blame people for fighting to keep these open. But its kind of like coal, yes its sad for West Virginia that we can finally start to really get rid of coal fired plants but the long term tide is flowing against coal for a variety of good reasons.

  6. I agree Mervel. It’s just the problem is that Democrats and Republicans alike have used prison as a substitute for a reasonable economic development policy toward upstate.

  7. Paul says:

    Brian (8:24). What do you mean as a substitute? Do you think that they have somehow prevented some other types of economic development? I don’t really follow. Can you explain what you mean? It seems like tourism has been developing (especially in a place like Lake Placid) as the prisons have also flourished. I am no fan of prisons. But at least from what I have seen it seems like tourism and prisons have done very well side by side. And politicians seem to have supported both.

  8. Marlo Stanfield says:

    Tourism is good, and the state’s continued funding of Whiteface has certainly been helpful. But most of the spinoff jobs tourism creates are in the service industry and they’re fairly low paying. Fine for younger people, but if you want to buy a house or raise a family, you need to be working two or three jobs, which a lot of people in the Adirondacks do. The only jobs where you can have a middle class existence without working more than one job are, pretty much, government jobs — prisons, Sunmount, teachers. A bunch of taxpayer supported jobs, with a poorer class working at restaurants and ski slopes below them, isn’t a recipe for economic stability. The area needs higher paying, non-government jobs. For years, there were enough governmental jobs that we didn’t really feel the pain, but now that the money’s drying up and crime is down in NYC we’re starting to feel it.

    I don’t know if that’s what Brian was getting at, but that’s how I’d interpret it through what I see.

  9. Paul says:


    I have many friends and family that live in Saranac Lake. Most of them have very well paying jobs (some very high paying) and none of them are government jobs. Many had parents who had public sector jobs. I think the area may be evolving away from public sector jobs. The increase in tourism (especially in the Lake Placid area) since the early eighties has played some role in that evolution.

    As far as tourism related jobs being low paying, sure some are and some are not. The guy that owns the hotel where the tourists stays does well, the guy that owns the marina where the tourists buy and rent boats does well, the guy that owns the outfitter where the tourists shop does well, the guy that owns the restaurant where the tourists eats does well……

  10. Mervel says:

    I think tourism is certainly a major industry and I think has huge growth potential.

    But the North Country is not the Park. The Park certainly is a subset of that and we have the Thousand Islands etc for tourism.

    But the prison economy dwarfs the tourism economy particularly when it comes to good paying, good benefit jobs.

    Certainly the hotel owner does well; how about the maids, the desk clerks and the cooks and dishwashers, how do they do? How are their benefits, do they even get full health benefits etc. In general they are not considered even middle income jobs, and this is true for the entire tourist industry.

    Most can barely afford to live in the communities where they work.

    By investing in and relying on; the prison industry all of these years, I think we have not developed other industries in a way that could have been done. Also our whole economy is dependent on the whims of Albany.

  11. Paul says:

    Mervel sure I agree there are also low paying jobs attached to the industry. Same goes for many.

    “By investing in and relying on; the prison industry all of these years, I think we have not developed other industries in a way that could have been done.”

    This is similar to what Brain said above. Not quite sure I follow that logic. If in some places they have not developed other industries alongside this “prison part” of the economy that isn’t the “fault” of that industry. I used Lake Placid as an example since they did both – nothing was preventing other places from doing the same? They just didn’t do it.

    Failing to diversify the economy in many of these places is why they are in serious trouble when the only industry folds up the tent. That is why I am concerned with this idea of making tourism too much of the economy in some Adirondack areas. I hear things like “don’t worry shut those areas off from development (permanently in the case of state land in the Adirondacks) we need those for tourism, tourism is the key”. The key is diversity.

  12. Mervel says:

    I agree the key is diversity. I have never seen a successful tourist only town. Look at the ski towns in the mountain west; great tourist ski towns, yet the only people who live in those communities are the very wealthy and most of those don’t live their year around, the families who actually make up the communities can’t afford to live in them. It is a elitist economy made up of the very wealthy and a bunch of low wage jobs serving those transient wealthy. In many ways they are not real communities in any sense of the word, but simply rich playgrounds with no middle class.

    I don’t think we would want the Park communities to become that way, although I fear that some of them are possibly on that route.

  13. Walker says:

    Mervel, I think you oversimplify a bit. There are plenty of people solidly in the middle class in the Adirondacks besides hotel owners. There are a lot of thriving small business people– owners of garages, landscaping businesses, restaurants, gift shops, convenience stores, bed and breakfasts, fuel oil companies, garbage companies, landlords, realtors, not to mention doctors, teachers, etc, etc. Granted, these businesses don’t pay their employees all that well, but there are plenty of low paying jobs all across America, too.

  14. mervel says:

    I don’t disagree Walker.

    I just think that becoming a tourist only place, is a very bad road to go down. We are not like Veil or Keystone or Jackson, we still have real communities with real families and business owners living in them. However if we go down this road of simply being a tourist playground I think it is a real danger.

    Much of the middle class in the North Country is in fact Prison employees and their families.

  15. Paul says:

    I think we agree. all these positions are valuable?

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