Monday, November 15, 2021

Schuyler County Opposes Hochul Prison Closures

The Schuyler County Legislature has come out against what it called Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “abrupt, secretive and unsafe” prison closures on public safety, economic and environmental grounds.

Meeting in special session on Monday (November 15, 2021), the legislature voted unanimously to enact a resolution opposing the planned closure of six prisons across the state by March of next year: Ogdensburg Correctional Facility; Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility; Willard Drug Treatment Campus; Southport Correctional Facility; Downstate Correctional Facility and Rochester Correctional Facility.

The resolution, drafted for the legislature by County Attorney Steven Getman at the request of Legislator Phil Barnes (R-Watkins Glen) and Chairman Carl Blowers (R-Montour Falls), noted that two of prisons, Southport and Willard, were located in adjoining Chemung and Seneca counties and provided jobs to Schuyler County residents.

“Governor Hochul’s decision impacts hundreds of area correctional officers and prison staff, and means uprooting hundreds of area families and a devastating toll on already hard-hit local economies,” the legislature noted.

Further, the resolution stated, the closure of Willard threatened to “prevent or delay necessary upgrades to the wastewater treatment facilities for Seneca County Sewer District No. 1, which serves (the) Campus as well as Sampson State Park, commercial and residential properties in the hamlet of Willard, the villages of Ovid and Lodi, and users along the east shore of Seneca Lake… potentially endangering the Seneca Lake watershed.”

Finally, the document noted that the state “has recently invested $20 million into operations at Southport, implementing a step-down program to work with the most violent inmates in the state’s prison system to get them ready for reintegration into the general prison population.”

Based on the above, the legislature said it “stands with our brave New York State Corrections Officers, as well as with corrections support staff and their families, whose lives will be devastated by this decision, and other area residents along Seneca Lake and otherwise, and calls for this decision to be reconsidered and reversed immediately.”

At the legislature’s direction, copies of the resolution will be sent by Legislative Clerk Stacy Husted to the Governor, the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, various other state officials and the legislatures of the adjoining counties, among others.

A complete copy of the draft resolution is available here.