By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — CHATEAUGAY — Chateaugay Correctional Facility may be in danger of closing under a proposal included in the State Assembly’s 2013-14 budget plan.
In his executive budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed closing Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan and Beacon Correctional Facility in Dutchess County.
But a later proposal from the Assembly put Chateaugay on the list and spared one of the governor’s targeted facilities, said Franklin County Legislature Chairman Billy Jones, who is also a correction officer.
“I don’t really want to say, but obviously, there’s politics involved,” Jones said, “and there are a lot more Assembly members from downstate than there are up here.”
Legislators have prepared a resolution opposing Chateaugay’s closure and are expected to discuss it at their regular meeting today, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Chamber of the County Courthouse.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) was in session in Albany and unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.
The Chateaugay facility, which was built in 1990, employs 114 people and was converted about 3½ years ago from its original purpose as an alcohol- and substance-abuse treatment center to a facility to house parole violators.
Jones, a Democrat from Chateaugay and at one time the village’s mayor, said he’s been in contact with the offices of both Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Duprey for support.
He said closure of Chateaugay Correctional “would be devastating to Chateaugay and Franklin County. We do not want to see it go.
“We’re going to do everything we can to protect it and make sure that doesn’t happen.
“We have faith in our state representatives and hope for the best. When negotiations are going on, anything can happen, but we are confident Chateaugay will remain open.”
NEEDS LEGISLATURE OK
The governor said he wanted to close the two prisons he designated within 60 days but needs the approval of the State Legislature to shutter them with less than a year’s notice to the impacted communities.
He said the towns slated to lose their prisons would receive $100 million in assistance.
The New York State Correctional Officer and Police Benevolent Association, the union for correction officers, questions the governor’s ability to make such a decision about closures so quickly and his estimates of $184 million in savings by eliminating 3,400 prison beds across two years.
“By once again jamming more inmates into fewer locations, the state will drive up the inmate-on-officer ratio and increase the risk of violent incidents inside correctional facilities,” NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe said in a recent statement published in the Correctional News.
“Coupled with the state’s consistent inability to sufficiently staff state facilities, the proposals … will increase the level of danger for our members,” he said.
’CAN’T AFFORD JOB LOSS’
Legislators state in the proposed resolution that Franklin County has welcomed prisons while other communities in the state shunned them and that the local economy is dependent on open and functioning facilities.
They said the North Country has already suffered from the closure of Camp Gabriels Correctional Facility in July 2009 and that the county “cannot afford to lose any more jobs in our communities.”
If adopted, the county’s resolution would be forwarded to Cuomo, Duprey, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, Assembly Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Herman D. Farrell Jr. and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
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