GOWANDA — Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, the ranking minority member of the Assembly Committee on Corrections, was critical of the governor's plan to close three Upstate prisons — including the Gowanda Correctional Facility.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration will close the Gowanda facility, the Clinton Correctional Facility Annex in Dannemora and the Watertown Correctional Facility by March 30 as the state’s fiscal crisis deepens and the population of inmates wanes.
More than 900 members of the New York State Corrections Officers Police Benevolent Association, the union for corrections officers, will be displaced, said Michael Powers, the NYSCOPBA president.
Giglio, R-Gowanda, called the news the “governor’s attempts to systematically dismantle the corrections system in New York state, which he has done since day one.”
The assemblyman said employees who work in corrections will be in greater danger from assault as inmates are transferred within the system.
“The closure of these facilities further illustrates this administration’s lack of concern for public safety and the protection of our citizens,” Giglio said. “In addition, this action shows complete disregard for the men and women who work at these facilities, as well as their families.”
The closures are expected to eliminate 2,750 beds in the prison system while resulting in an estimated $89 million per year in savings for the state, Thomas Mailey, spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, told CNHI on Monday.
The current statewide inmate population stands at 34,842, down from 57,229 one year ago, for a reduction of 39%, Mailey noted.
“That’s why DOCCS carefully reviewed the operations at its correctional facilities and identified Watertown and Gowanda Correctional Facilities and the Clinton Annex for closure,” Mailey said.
The impacted employees will receive “priority placement” through job transfers with DOCCS or at other state agencies, Mailey said. The prison system will work with the state Office of General Services for possible reuse of the properties after they are decommissioned as prisons.
Gowanda and Watertown are medium security prisons, while Clinton Annex is classified as maximum security.
Giglio will join state Sen. George Borrello, R-Chautauqua County, state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Erie County, Gowanda Mayor David Smith and NYSCOPBA representatives in a press conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the entrance to Gowanda Correctional Facility to call on the governor to reconsider the closure.