ALBANY – In the past eight years the prison population of New York State has declined by 10,000 inmates and, in the face of that, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is directing the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to close three state prisons of its choice.
“In my first State of the State address eight years ago, I said prisons are not a jobs program. Since then, I am proud to have closed more prisons than any governor in history and at the same time proved that New York can remain the safest large state in the nation. But we must do more,” Cuomo said. “These new closures are another step toward reversing the era of mass incarceration and recognizing that there are more effective alternatives to lengthy imprisonment.”
Since Cuomo took office in 2011, the prison population has declined by nearly 10,000 – a 16.7 percent reduction – from 56,419 to 46,973 people, as of today.
New York’s reduction in prison population has coincided with significant decreases in reported crime, including both violent and property offenses, Cuomo said.
In 2017, reported crime reached an all-time low since statewide reporting began in 1975. Preliminary data for 2018 shows that crime continued to decline for the sixth consecutive year and will mark a historic low. Over the past decade, the state’s crime rate has declined by nearly 25 percent due to the precipitous decline in crime and increase in number of residents.
The closure plan will not anticipate staff layoffs and will provide impacted DOCCS employees with opportunities to transition to other facilities or positions. In prior facility closures, more than 96 percent of staff have chosen to continue state service, retire, or pursue other opportunities. While it is ultimately dependent on the exact facilities, the closures are estimated to eliminate at least 1,200 beds and result in an annual savings of, at least, $35 million. The budget amendment provides the Department with the authority to close the prisons on an expedited schedule.