Ogdensburg Prison Needs $12M In Capital Improvements
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:
Inmate counts are as of March 9. Employee counts are of March 11.
From Jeffrey Gordon, NYS Division of Budget spokesman:
From the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association:
Friday, March 7, 2014, Watertown, NY