Posted at: 09/25/2013 1:12 PM
| Updated at: 09/25/2013 10:04 PM
By: Mark Mulholland
Corrections officers met eith lawmakers in Wilton to talk about preventing the closure of the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility.
Lou Graiff / WNYT
WILTON - Corrections officers and lawmakers gathered near Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility to discuss their strategy to keep the medium-security prison open.
The Governor announced plans in July to close this prison and three others by July of 2014.
Not so fast says the union that represents the 320 employees of Mt. McGregor.
Dressed in orange shirts that read "Say No To Cuomo," officers said the offer to take jobs at other facilities around the state isn't good enough. And the decision to close shouldn't be made exclusively by the governor.
Tom Mailey, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, had these strong words for the guards and lawmakers, saying,
"They either have no knowledge of current law, or are intentionally ignoring key facts in order to score cheap political points,' said an e-mail from Mailey. "New York's crime rate continues to decline, the inmate population continues to shrink, and taxpayers can't afford to continue to pay for empty prison beds."
But lawmakers say the the crime rate and prison population are cyclical and could increase at any time and the state won't be ready.
"The Senate conference that I belong to is going to fight this very hard," said Sen. Hugh Farley, R- Schenectady.
The union representing corrections officers wants proof that the governor's plan to close four prisons would save $30-million as it claims. And they say now is not the time to cut staff.
"More than 70-percent of our inmates are violent offenders. This isn't the day of low-level drug offenders. This is the day of severe incidents," said Donn Rowe, president of NYSCOPBA, the union that represents corrections officers in New York.
"We need reasonable heads to prevail. I think this was a spending decision. It wasn't thought through,” Rowe said.
Mt. McGregor employs about 320 people, including 209 corrections officers.
NewsChannel 13 received interesting information from Sen. Kathleen Marchione early Wednesday evening. The senator says she toured Mt. McGregor today and witnessed on-going renovation projects. Begging the question: Why is the state paying to renovate a facility that it plans to close?
NewsChannel 13 placed a call to the Governor's office in an attempt to verify the senator's claims.