Ogdensburg Prison Needs $12M In Capital Improvements


By Jude Seymour

I filed a Freedom of Information request to find out which prisons need the most work over the next four years.

The answer in the north country: Ogdensburg Correctional. Governor Paterson tried closing it last year - and it still needs nearly $12 million of work. (There is dispute on whether the bulk of that cost is needed. You can find that context here.)

Next on the list: The Dry Hill facility outside of Watertown, at $7.5 million.

Governor Cuomo needs to save $184 million by closing six prisons. Will he close prisons based on how much work needs to be done to keep them up?

Cuomo's top prison official is watching the money.

"My first priority - if you will - would be, 'What can I afford?' As opposed to: 'What is the impact on the community and workforce?'" said DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer in a joint budget hearing last month.

The governor says he knows prisons are important economic engines for upstate towns. So the politicians with jobs to lose are saying: Let's have some rules.

"We believe there should be criteria established," said Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome. "It should not be in the commissioner's hands."

Legislators here want Cuomo to consider things like the market value of prison property. That makes downstate prisons a more attractive cut.

Also, once the governor decides on a cut, the prison will close in 60 days. That's not exactly a lot of time to move.

"To ask them to move to a new work location within 60 days is not an approach that can be accomplished nor should it be asked upon any member of my unit," said NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe.



Capital Projects, Watertown Hub 2010-2014


A look at the numbers:

  • Cape Vincent: 339 workers, 762 inmates, $3.09 million in capital improvements needed
  • Gouverneur: 363 workers, 920 inmates, $1.8 million in capital improvements needed
  • Ogdensburg: 276 workers, 339 inmates, $11.93 million in capital improvements needed
  • Riverview: 338 workers, 759 inmates, $2.05 million in capital improvements needed
  • Watertown: 322 workers, 496 inmates, $7.5 million in capital improvements needed

Inmate counts are as of March 9. Employee counts are of March 11.

From Jeffrey Gordon, NYS Division of Budget spokesman:

  • Sixty day notice replaces the one-year notification that had been in place
  • Estimate for the savings for closing the beds: unchanged from executive budget. $184 million over two years. $72 million in FY 2011-12, $112 million in FY12-13.
  • What the role of the DOCS commissioner is in the closure process: He will be charged with implementing the closures identified by the governor.

From the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association:

  • Since 2001, 2,000 security force personnel have been removed from the system
  • Since 2009, five prisons have been closed, six annexes and 987 officer and sergeants positions have been lost.
  • Double-bunking - the "temporary" act of placing two medium or maxium-security inamtes into a space designed for one inmate - remains a fact for more than 10,000 inmates in New York state
  • New York state maxium security prisons are at 122 percent capacity.
  • Overall, New York state security prisons are at 100 percent capacity.
  • Today's inmate population is comprised of more violent and hardened criminals due to the repeal of automatic sentencing.
  • Inmate-on-inmate assaults are up significantly - 12 percent - in the past year.
  • Inmate suicides have doubled since last year.
  • Due to reduced staff and crowded conditions, inmate-on-inmate assaults, inmate-on-staff assaults, inmate suicides and contraband have all increased from 2009 to 2010.

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steve bleau said on Wednesday, Mar 30 at 11:31 AM


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Irriated big time said on Wednesday, Mar 30 at 11:18 AM

jude for crying out loud OCF doesnt need a $9.4m heating system if the co-generation plant remains open which is looking like its going to... see they provide OCF with FREE yes i said FREE heat which is a major benifit to the tax payers of nys. please get your facts straight BEFORE you go on tv and make a fool of yourself.

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Collleen Grooms said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 9:18 PM

Not only will there be a loss of jobs; but what about the inmates that will be turned loose? Or will there be over crowded prisons? Wasn't that suppose to be prevented? C K Grooms

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Jim said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 8:12 PM

Jude, you should really find another line of work because this "Investigative Reporting" isn't working out. If you were fair and impartial you should have called not only the DOCS, but talk with people that work their. They will tell you exactly what's needed. This may be news to you, get a job that yoiu can report All the facts!

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Susan said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 7:31 PM

I would also be curious to know what the Capital Projects are estimated to be for other facilities closer to New York City.

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Susan said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 7:22 PM

Did anyone else notice that the Capital Projects List provided by the FOIL Officer are "Draft" documents. Draft documents may not be the official documents.

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ANDREW said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 7:21 PM


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Jim said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 7:05 PM

Hey Jude--arent you supposed to be an investigative reporter? Then invstigate and don't just go by the DOCS commissioner's office figures! Ogdensburg does not need a $9.4 million boiler

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Chad said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 6:55 PM

Jude, I like you.....or use to like you! Reporters are suppose to do there homework before things as such are posted. Take all of your "foiled" info and subtract 9,431,000.00. That will give you a more accurate look at OCF's Fiscal Budget for Capital planning.Plus, try running the same study backwords and list what the facilities gave back to the state that they didn't use. You will be surprised.!

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Michael B. Powers said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 6:47 PM

As far as Ogdensburg Correctional facility is concerned. Those numbers are flawed and remember they are estimates. Local contractors are starving for work now and those numbers will come in considerably lower. The Nine and half Million dollar boiler is not a accurate account. The boiler is not needed OCF and OMH have a active contract with 8 years left with Alliance Energy for free heat and water,that is a true savings to the taxpayer. Does your Capitol Improvement foil request include OMH and a boiler system for it? These are only two of the many issues displayed last year from Mayor Nelson's task force to educate the executive and legislature to show the efficiency of the facility and the impact it would have on our region and economy. With the potential sale of Alliance Energy to a proven company that would structure a possible deal with the state, generate power for the grid and produce additional and much needed jobs for the city, those ideas far outweigh any costs

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Susan said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 6:37 PM

Gary..I couldn't have said it better myself. If you take the boiler house out of the mix, Ogdensburgs' capitol projects are minimal. Besides if the co-generation facility does convert, there is a possibility of having all state agencies in the area being part of the first green campus in New York. Isn't that what our government is pushing for...Green Energy ???

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Gary said on Tuesday, Mar 29 at 5:54 PM

Jude You should investigate the co-generation facility in Ogdensburg. Rumor is that they have worked out a deal with the State for more land and convert to a bio- mass facility. If so that would mean there would be no need to spend $9.4 million for a boiler house at Ogdensburg CF. Also how much money has been saved over the years from the FREE heat this facility has provided. If the State is in a crisis why is it that they are spending this kind of money on repairs that could be held off until they are in better shape to afford them.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016
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