Hudson and Coxsackie prisons may stay open
May 09, 2011 10:20 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="The Hudson Correctional Facility as seen in its first incarnation as a Training Facility for Girls. Image from Friends of Hudson website."][/caption]Ever since Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised the subject of state prison cuts as a budget-balancing tool this past winter, there has been much conjecture as to whether there's a possibility that either the Coxsackie or Greene Correctional Facilities in Greene County, or the smaller state facility in Hudson, were on any lists for possible closure or job cuts. A new story in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, however, seems to dispel such notions by breaking down the inmate to prison guard ratio of prisons statewide, as well as the number of empty beds in existing facilities. "State prisons have as many as 8,000 excess beds at their 67 facilities, and the ratio of corrections officers to inmates far exceeds national averages, state records show," writes Joseph Spector. "A review of population counts and staffing levels by Gannett's Albany bureau shows that prisons are running at about 88 percent capacity — with hundreds of open beds at some facilities." He goes on to break down Cuomo's call to cut 3,700 prison beds and close up to six prisons by noting that only minimal and medium security facilities would be included in cuts. A FOIL request showed that the state currently has about 57,000 inmates and 21,000 officers. One prison, the Bayview Correctional Facility for women in New York City, had more staff than inmates, while Albion Correctional Facility, another woman's facility in Orleans County, was running at about 66 percent capacity and Hale Creek, in central New York. Altogether, 13 facilities had a 2-to-1 ratio of inmates to guards, not including Coxsackie, which is a maximum security facility, or Greene and Hudson, which are medium security. The state prison population reached a high of 71,600 inmates in 1999 and has since dropped as the state loosened its strict "Rockefeller drug laws" shifted to new alternative-to-incarceration programs. Spector reports how Cuomo has repeatedly said that prisons should not be used for economic-development purposes and has offered up to $50 million in grants to communities hurt by pending prison closures. "If people need jobs, let's get people jobs," the Governor said in his State of State address in January. "Don't put other people in prison to give some people jobs." For the rest of the story click here.