The state Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association is running a new radio ad today to blast Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to close two state prisons in Manhattan and Dutchess County, saying it would put officers out of work and lead to less safe prisons.
“Closing two more facilities will force correction officers to choose between their jobs and their families,” said Donn Rowe, the union’s president, in a statement. “Governor Cuomo has said that no jobs will be lost as a result of the proposed closures, but that’s not the full truth. Eleven facilities have already been closed since 2009, and hundreds of correction officers are waiting for transfers within a daily commuting distance of their homes.”
Cuomo has moved aggressively to close prisons, saying the prison population is down significantly since its highs in the 1990s. He closed seven in 2011 and wants to close two more.
The Bayview prison in Manhattan has been vacant since Superstorm Sandy in October. The Beacon facility, Cuomo said in his budget adddress, costs the state nearly $70,000 per inmate a year—more than twice the state standard. The closures would reduce bed capacity and save nearly $19 million, Cuomo said.
The union said 160 officers would be re-located, but the Cuomo administration has the workers would be absorbed through other prisons.
Updated: Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said there will no layoffs as part of the closure plan.
““The facts are clear: under the Governor’s correctional reform plan no one will be laid off and taxpayers will save over $80 million dollars over the next two years, period,” he said. “New York state taxpayers simply cannot afford for the state to treat our prison system like a job program when we have one of the lowest crime rates in the nation and far fewer inmates in our correctional system.”
The union said that since 2009, 11 prisons have closed and nine since Cuomo took office. They are also taking issue with Cuomo’s plan because it would change state law to no longer require one-year notice before a prison is closed.
Cuomo’s budget states that even with the closures and the elimination of 3,800 excess beds, the system still has excess capacity.
The union says the state’s prisons are at more than 100 percent capacity—something the state has continually disputed.
Here’s the radio ad: