Upstate Prisons Update

New York Times Metro reporter Jim Dwyer filed a column on Saturday that does a good job of summing up where we’re at, and where we’ll probably stay, on the proposed plan to shut down underused/empty prisons (on both the juvenile and adult side) in upstate New York.

“This week, the Legislature and the governor agreed to keep the four unneeded prisons open at a cost of $33.5 million next year,” Dwyer writes of the adult facilities. “If they are kept open much beyond that, they will need $30 million in capital repairs to keep them in shape, according to the corrections department.”

On the juv side: “The Legislature did agree to shut four of the five juvenile facilities, but kept open one, Great Valley, which is about 350 miles west of New York City. It is less than half full, but the state senator from the district, Catharine M. Young, was on the budget committee. (Pyramid in the Bronx, a sixth juvenile institution that the state wanted to close on the grounds that the facilities were inadequate, was also kept open.)”

No suprise that State Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno–vindicated since his archrival Eliot Spitzer fell on his, er, sword a few weeks back–stood firmly with the corrections officers as the shutdown debate heated up, arguing that a decline in crime was a result of increased lockdowns and that the spaces need to be held open in anticipation of the next crime wave. Which, according to the cold mentality that prevails up in Albany, is always just around the corner.


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