Lawmakers react to news of prison closures

By WKTV News

ROME, N.Y. - Numerous lawmakers reacted Thursday night upon hearing the news that Governor Andrew Cuomo's cost-cutting plan to close seven prisons throughout the state included two (Oneida County Correctional Facility and Camp Georgetown) in the Mohawk Valley.

State Senator Joseph A. Griffo

Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R-C-IP, Rome) today issued this statement in response to the Administration's announcement of the Governor's prison reduction plan.

"I am disappointed with the decision of the planned closure of the Oneida Correctional Facility; while the facility is not specifically in my Senate district, I care about and have great concern of the impact to the community where I live. We will be requesting information that went into the final determination so that all of us can understand how this achieves the economies of scale identified. A coordinated, collective, hard-fought effort made very telling points regarding the Oneida County facilities to the Governor and his staff. I believe a solid case was made on merit to retain them. The Governor has, and has always had, the authority to make the decision that he has released today. Because the authority to take this action is with the Executive Branch, my commitment now is to work with the Governor, his senior staff, and the Departments of Corrections and Economic Development to do everything possible to keep the jobs that are currently at the Oneida facility within our region and to ensure that our community has all possible support and assistance in developing a re-use plan for the facility and an economic transition plan for the region. There will be a meeting held sometime next week among state and local area officials to discuss and coordinate the next steps."

Rome Mayor James Brown

"Earlier this month, I urged Governor Andrew Cuomo and the task force he commissioned to review and suggest cost savings within the state's prison system to spare the Oneida Correctional Facility located here in Rome," Mayor James F. Brown said. "we are deeply disappointed that the governor and the commission have decided to move forward with a plan to close this facility.

"In light of the recommendation to close the Oneida Correctional Facility, the city, county and our elected state officials must work cooperatively to ensure that the state work vigorously to provide stabilization funds to help Rome and the surrounding communities offset the loss of nearly 500 jobs but the impact that this facility had on local businesses which supplied an array of supplies and materials.

"I understand and appreciate the governor's need to reduce the state's budget deficit, however, I am troubled that the pain involved in closing the state's budget gap may not be shared equally throughout the state but borne mostly by a few unfortunate communities.

"We have, as I have said many times, been down this road before and we must insist that Governor Cuomo and all of our state officials follow through with their promise to provide sufficient funding to not just redevelop this location but do so in a way that promotes and enhances our future economic development. Unlike the short-lived federal stimulus of a few short years ago, the state's proposed stabilization funding must be a level sufficient enough to help redevelop this location and also spur additional redevelopment and community revitalization.

"Before the Oneida facility was located here, no community in the state wanted I, but we took it in, we embraced it and we made its employees a part of this community. And now, if it cannot stay, we expect the state to do what is right and to make this community whole.

"I will work closely with County Executive Tony Picente and with State Senator Joe Griffo and any all other state involved in this process. We need the state to come forward, not just on financial aid, but on a litany of things that will also make a difference for our community, including such things as repeal of the Wicks Law, changes in pension and worker's compensation law, approval of allowing our regional transportation system and highway infrastructure to handle tandem trucks and a variety of other initiatives that will clearly help our region."

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I - New Hartford) blasted Governor Andrew Cuomo's announcement that he will be closing seven state correctional facilities, impacting the employment of 1,500 New Yorkers, including the 505 employees at the Oneida Correctional Facility.

Assemblywoman Tenney said she has been opposed to the governor's plan to close prisons since he first proposed the measure in his Executive Budget in February. She said that she, along with state Senator Joseph Griffo, County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. and other state and local leaders fought for the jobs of 2,000 individuals employed within the four correctional facilities in Oneida County.

Out of these four facilities, only the Oneida Correctional Facility is being slated to close so far. The Rome medium-security facility employees 505 New Yorkers and is responsible for 1,194 inmates. It is the largest facility being closed by the governor.

"Assemblywoman Tenney believes this decision is incredibly discouraging because the State already has invested in this region by placing food and pharmacy services for the entire system right here in Oneida County. She is advocating that the governor consolidate all other services here instead of closing one of our facilities. Our region is centrally-located and thus, we provide an excellent, cost-saving base to service the entire state prison system," her office said in a statement Thursday evening.

"I will continue to advocate for consolidation into Oneida County and oppose the closure of any of our facilities," Assemblywoman Tenney said.

The statement said that according to the governor's office, no employee will lose their job, despite the facility closures and all employees will be offered reassignment at other
state correctional facilities.

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