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Area Lawmakers Form Coalition To Keep County Prisons From Cuomo’s Chopping Block

Prison Closure Coalition
Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - Some Oneida County Lawmakers say they are taking a proactive approach to Governor Cuomo’s agenda aimed at closing state prisons. The elected officials gathered at the County Office Building to announce their plan to construct an Economic Impact Assessment Report, in an effort to keep the four state prisons in the county from the governor’s chopping block.

County Executive Anthony Picente says the area has been a target for consolidation and closures before. He said, “It seems that this region becomes a target. We were a target for BRACC, we were a target for Berger [Commission], we were a target recently for the postal workers, I mean when does it stop here in Oneida County? … We have a track record of strong employees, strong work ethic, a way of consolidating when we fought the BRACC effort a couple of years ago, we were able to convince them to add jobs up at DFAS because of the capacity and work force that we have here.” Picente goes on to say that the purpose of the coalition is not just to defend the areas prison system, but to also improve the state’s consolidation efforts.

State Senator Joseph Griffo said the facilities do more than just house prisoners. The Oneida County prison system provides food and health care services to the entire state prison system, and are in the process of completing an automated central pharmacy that will do the same. Griffo said, “We’ll be looking at an economic impact that we can present to the state official to show what it means to the area, and we will continue to make our case on merit as to why the facilities continue to provide a important service in a cost effective way to the state.”

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney says another problem the area is facing is the new deadline imposed by Cuomo. “We went from a year to 60 days. There’s going to be a process in place but now we’re going to have to move very quickly because we are going to literally have 60 days and we’re talking about public input and trying to, you know, make our case,” she said. The officials say the governor is indicating that he wants to move very quickly on his campaign promise to close 3,700 prisons beds in the state. Griffo said once the prison closure recommendations are made, the community will be notified 60 days before actions are taken to close a facility.

The coalition of lawmakers include, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., Senator Joseph A. Griffo, Senator David Valesky, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, Marcy Supervisor Brian Scala, Rome Mayor James F. Brown, and other members of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association. The officials say their report will be ready for the governor’s review in 2 to 4 weeks.

Oneida County has 4 medium security prison facilities for men.

Marcy Correctional Facility

Total Beds – 1114

Total Inmates – 976

Empty Beds – 138

Authorized Employees – 503

Current Employees – 492

Mid-State Correctional Facility

Total Beds – 1345

Total Inmates – 1278

Empty Beds – 67

Authorized Employees – 657

Current Employees – 641

Mohawk Correctional Facility

Total Beds – 1305

Total Inmates – 962

Empty Beds – 343

Authorized Employees – 694

Current Employees – 524

Oneida Correctional Facility

Total Beds – 1194

Total Inmates – 927

Empty Beds – 267

Authorized Employees – 609

Current Employees – 505

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