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OPINION: New York State closing 6 more prisons is another step back on public safety

By Will Barclay

Date:

The Nov. 8 announcement by the New York Department of Corrections that six correctional facilities will be closed is more evidence that Gov. Kathy Hochul is campaigning rather than governing. Closing prisons is an idea that might appeal to liberal voters in a primary, but it’s of no benefit to upstate communities and represents yet another step backward on public safety. 

Shutting down these facilities in the same reckless manner used by her predecessor demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the men and women who have dedicated their careers to serving the public.

Shamefully, the employees impacted by these decisions have often been given only 60- to 90-days’ notice that their jobs would be moved or eliminated. Treating members of our state workforce with such disregard is completely unacceptable. While the governor’s office has been singularly focused on wiping correctional facilities off the map, it has failed to recognize that incidents of violence against staff and between inmates have escalated dramatically in state prisons. Rather than celebrate another announcement about shutting down buildings, maybe it’s time we do something to improve the safety of the people in them.        

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact Barclay at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us. This editorial is drawn from a Nov. 8 news release that Barclay issued in response to New York’s announcement that it will close Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility near Lake Champlain, Willard Drug Treatment Campus in the Finger Lakes area, Southport Correctional Facility near Elmira, Downstate Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley area, and Rochester Correctional Facility by March 10, 2022.