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Friday, October 29, 2021

Gov. Hochul Gets Right to Work:
Gov. Hochul will seek to close more underutilized prisons, repurpose them

Governor Kathleen C. Hochul addressed the issue of underutilized prison complexes at a news conference on Wednesday. She said she examined prison capacity and occupancy her first week in office and discovered that the state’s prison population has declined 56% in the last 22 years from it’s 1999 peak of 72,649 inmates to 31,853 as of Oct 1, 2021. 

There was a dramatic 22% drop in 2020, when the state’s prison population decreased by 9,888 people which she obtained from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision report released earlier in October.

Gov. Hochul would like to see more prison facilities closed but not abandoned. She prefers that we find new purposes for the facilities for the benefit of the employees, the staff, and to benefit other segments of the population such as drug rehabilitation or even housing.

“My question is always about the workers who have made this their career,” she said. “I don’t live far from some of these facilities in upstate New York, my home, and I know it has an impact on the local economy.” There were 22,112 corrections officers, sergeants and lieutenants in 1999, and 17,592 as of Oct. 1, 2021, representing only a 20% drop. 

The inmate-to-officer ratio has moved from over four inmates per officer in 1999 to less than 2 inmates per officer today. As prisons have closed statewide, 96% of employees at those facilities have been relocated within DOCCS, retired or quit of their own accord, according to DOCCS documents. 

Gov. Hochul said as facilities close, she would like to see to what alternative uses they can be committed.

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