Prison System to Temporarily Consolidate Under-Populated Inmate Housing Units, Providing Taxpayer Savings With No Job Losses or Transfers
The New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) plans to temporarily consolidate 22 under-populated inmate housing units at 17 prisons in response to the State’s continuing inmate population decline.
The move, scheduled to be implemented over the next couple of weeks, will achieve additional savings for State taxpayers by allowing DOCS to leave the 22 housing units unstaffed and empty. Inmates from the vacated units will be transferred to vacant beds in other, staffed housing units. No beds will be added. Correction Officers assigned to the vacated units will be reassigned to vacant posts elsewhere in their current facility.
The plan will immediately reduce DOCS’ overtime expenses because there will be fewer vacant posts for which Officers will be required to work extra hours to cover. Since DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer selected the housing units at facilities where high staff attrition has left positions vacant, all affected Correction Officers will be reassigned within their current facilities to fill those vacancies. No Officer will have to transfer and there will be no layoffs.
The move will allow DOCS to leave 149 Correction Officer positions temporarily unfilled. On an annual basis, that translates to State taxpayer savings of approximately $8.4 million, not counting the cost of benefits.
Commissioner Fischer took the action in light of the continued declined in the State prison population, which has dropped by almost 20 percent, or nearly 14,000 offenders, in the last decade, and by nearly four percent, or 2,250 offenders, in the last year alone. The number of inmates is projected to decline by an additional 1,000 in the 2010-11 State fiscal year.
The plan will result in 1,023 general confinement beds temporarily taken off line at 15 men’s medium security prisons, the women’s medium security Albion Correctional Facility and the minimum security portion of the men’s Butler Correctional Facility.
Following, by affected facility (and county in which each is located), are the number of housing units to be vacated, the number of beds that will be left unstaffed, the total bed capacity for the facility, and the number of staff positions to be left unfilled:
- Adirondack (Essex), 1 unit, 41 beds, 566-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Albion (Orleans), 2 units, 72 beds, 1,247-bed capacity, 11 staff positions
- Altona (Clinton), 1 unit, 60 beds, 512-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Bare Hill (Franklin), 1 unit, 60 beds, 1,722-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Butler (minimum security portion, Wayne), 1 unit, 48 beds, 288-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Cape Vincent (Jefferson), 1 unit, 60 beds, 882-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Franklin (Franklin), 2 units, 120 beds, 1,730-bed capacity, 10 staff positions
- Gouverneur (St. Lawrence), 1 unit, 60 beds, 882-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Groveland (Livingston), 2 units, 26 beds, 1,106-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Livingston (Livingston), 1 unit, 60 beds, 881-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Mohawk (Oneida), 1 unit, 55 beds, 1,305-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Mt. McGregor (Saratoga), 1 unit, 43 beds, 544-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Oneida (Oneida), 2 units, 92 beds, 1,215-bed capacity, 10 staff positions
- Riverview (St. Lawrence), 1 unit, 60 beds, 882-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Washington (Washington), 1 unit, 60 beds, 882-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
- Watertown (Jefferson), 2 units, 46 beds, 670-bed capacity, 9 staff positions
- Wyoming (Wyoming), 1 unit, 60 beds, 1,722-bed capacity, 5 staff positions
Additionally, in the coming months, DOCS will take 77 general confinement beds off line at the men’s maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton County) and renovate the space for an enhanced Intermediate Care Program unit for offenders with mental health treatment needs. That will allow some staff positions to remain temporarily unfilled at Clinton.
DOCS will also remove the underused 110-bed protective custody unit at the men’s medium security Collins Correctional Facility (Erie County) and transfer any remaining inmates to other protective custody units operated by the Department. The Collins unit is housed in a gymnasium that may be made available to inmates who lack current access to an indoor gym. The move will allow 26 staff positions to remain temporarily unfilled.
Last year, DOCS closed three correctional camps and six prison annexes. In late 2008, DOCS consolidated 48 housing units at 21 different correctional facilities, including Adirondack, where two units holding 92 beds were taken off line; Mohawk (four units holding 178 beds); Mt. McGregor (one unit, 36 beds); Oneida (two units, 95 beds); and Watertown (two units, 52 beds). Additionally, 144 beds have already been taken off line at the minimum security portion of Butler. Butler Minimum has been proposed for closure on January 31, 2011.
Governor David A. Paterson’s Executive Budget calls for DOCS to achieve savings through housing unit consolidation in the 2010-11 State fiscal year, which begins April 1. The budget proposal is under review by the State Legislature. In addition to Butler Minimum, the Executive Budget calls for the closure of the men’s minimum security Lyon Mountain (Clinton County), the men’s medium security Ogdensburg (St. Lawrence County) and the men’s minimum security Moriah Shock Incarceration (Essex County) Correctional Facilities in 2011.