Steve DiGioia

An Anticipated Financial Boost as Kathy Hochul Decides to Shut Down Five Prisons 

Kathy Hochul introduced her executive budget on Jan 16 to fill up the financial gap for the upcoming 2025 fiscal year.

The newly released budget includes legislation that has given access to close five prisons.

The budget proposal which is up to $233 billion for the 2025 fiscal year includes many policy changes that would aid the deficits of the city in November, the division of Budget released a report that signified the deficit of $4.3 billion for the 2025 fiscal year.

In a statement by Hochul, she mentioned the tough decision of keeping the city out of a “deeper hole” in the future.

The criticism 

The legislation for closing up five prisons might be to increase the operational efficiency of the prisons, but some state legislators and labor unions are against the proposal.

Chris Summers, the president of NYSCOPBA, said that the decision could not be sustained due to the increasing violence in the city along with fewer officers and sergeants to tackle the situation.

Assemblyman Billy Jones also raised concern as the closing of these correctional divisions will do nothing for the increasing crime. He also was worried about places like the North Country that depend on such facilities.

Some also criticized the government for shrinking expenditures only when the criminal justice system is involved.

The New York State Correctional Officers and some Police Benevolent Association were concerned and opposed the proposal as it would lead to more prison violence and might lead to the staff either quitting or retiring soon.

The facilities will be given a 90-day notice before they will be closed. The decision was taken as the current number of prisons was using more infrastructure than was necessary.

The State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said that the decision would allow the government to invest properly in the necessary correctional facilities.

The Aim

The main reason for closing the five facilities is to save $77 million for three 2025 fiscal year and up to $128 million in the first full year they are implemented. There is also a possibility that less than five facilities need to be closed.

The facilities are not yet identified but New York State Senate Minority leader Rob Ortt believes the governor knows about the five facilities.

He believes the five facilities are located in the Upstate in his member’s districts where the Republicans serve as the senators and assembly members.

Ortt also said that the government’s focus should be to have better staffed and resourced prisons as crimes would not come to a halt, and for that, the jails need to be opened rather than closed.

However, the propagators of the decision said that the closure would help address the problem of staff shortages. In return, the government is asking the Legislature to support the effort of increasing staff salaries in exchange for closing off the prisons.

The governor expects a difficult negotiation with the legislature but is determined to close the budget gap by smart investments.

 

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