GOWANDA – Several local and state officials are now calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to reverse the decision that will close the Gowanda Correctional Facility next year.
New York State Senator George Borrello, who represents the state’s 57th Senate district, joined Senator Patrick Gallivan, Assemblyman Joe Giglio, Gowanda Mayor David Smith and others to try and save the facility.
“After months of putting their health and safety at risk to do their jobs in the midst of a pandemic, the hardworking men and women who staff Gowanda Correctional Facility have received their holiday ‘thanks’ from the state: notification that their place of employment is closing in a matter of weeks,” said Borrello.
“What looks like a few lines on a budget spreadsheet to the Governor and DOCCS officials represent the economic anchor for these employees, their families and the entire Gowanda community,” the Senator added. “Decades of investment in the infrastructure, programming and personnel of the prison is being decimated in one stroke.”
The group outlined their concerns about the negative impact they say the closure will have on employees and their families, the community, and the correctional system as a whole during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
A spokesperson with the New York State Department of Corrections says the decision was based on, but not limited to seven main points:
- Physical infrastructure
- Program offerings
- Facility security level
- Specialized medical and mental health services
- Other facilities in the area to minimize the impact on staff
- Potential reuse options
Areas of the state where prior closures have occurred to minimize the impact to communities
Officials say they carefully reviewed the operations at 52 correctional facilities and identified Gowanda, among Watertown and Clinton Annex, for closure. The three facilities are slated to close by March 30, 2021.
The spokesperson says since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the prison population has declined by more than 22,000, a 39% reduction.