ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - We’ve only known that Governor Cuomo wants the ability to close more state prisons through the state budget process. No real numbers had been attached to it, but that has changed.
In Albany Wednesday, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Anthony Annucci testified before a state Legislature committee. It was there that he indicated 2 or 3 state prisons could be at risk of closing.
"How many are you planning on closing, if any, this year," asked Assemblyman David Weprin (D. - 24th District).
"We didn't specify a number in discussions with staff. We've indicated roughly 2,500 beds would be impacted," replied Annucci.
The 2,500 beds would be cut in state prisons under Governor Cuomo's latest budget proposal.
On the local level, town of Watertown Supervisor Joel Bartlett says the impact could be widespread across the north country.
"It would have a dramatic impact I would think on the number of prison guards and full-time jobs the state provides the north country region," he said.
In the north country, there's a total of five prisons out of 52 in the state.
Currently, the Watertown Correctional Facility can hold up to 873 inmates.
Cape Vincent Correctional Facility - 882.
There are two facilities in Ogdensburg: Riverview Correctional with 882, and Ogdensburg Correctional with roughly 400 inmates.
And Gouverneur Correctional Facility is the biggest at 1,075.
Michael Powers is the president for the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association. He's on the same page when it comes to negatives of Cuomo's proposal.
"We don't condone it. We don't want to see the closure. We don't feel the closures are necessary. And then when that happens, we work with the department through seniority and reassignment lists and what's available to relocate the staff," he said.
Cuomo’s bill doesn’t say how many or which facilities would close, but it gives him the right to close any prison he chooses as long as he offers at least 90 days notice, which is different than the current notice of a year’s time.