NY Prison Shutdown Update

On Sunday the Albany Times Union ran a page-one story about the struggle in the State Senate over the Office of Children and Family Services proposal to shutter six underused juvenile prisons. “Every empty bed costs the state between $120,000 and $200,000 per year, according to OCFS,” reporter Irene Jay Liu writes. “The state estimates that closing Brace alone would save $1.5 million, while the closings would save $16 million or more overall this coming year.” Unfortunately, “Upstate Republican senators, backed by generous state union campaign contributions and facing re-election this year, strongly resist closing such facilities and the loss of jobs in their districts.”

An accompanying editorial calls on newly installed Governor David Paterson to follow through on plans laid out by former Governor Spitzer (that’s Client Nine to you, Dollface) to shut the prisons down. “Governor Paterson should support the closings, but with a firm guarantee that community care will be there,” the paper explains. Here, here, I say!

Meanwhile, Eddie Borges, the tireless director of communications at OCFS, working in coordination with the good folks at the New York Juvenile Justice Coalition, has sent out an e-mail blast drumming up support for the next lobbying day in Albany, scheduled for this Wednesday.

Advocates supporting reform of the system are planning another lobbying day in Albany, this week, on Wednesday, March 26. Their schedule begins with a press conference on the balcony of the Legislative Correspondents Association (LCA) offices on the third floor of the capital, between the State Senate and Assembly, at 11 a.m.

Call Mishi Faruqee at the Correctional Association to reserve a spot on the bus coming up from New York City or to get plugged into their schedule for the day. Mishi can be reached by phone at (212) 254-5700 ext. 315 or by email at mfaruqee@correctionalassociation.org.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: The LCA Press Room in the Legislative Office Building (LOB) is on the first floor.

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