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.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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