Community Leaders Announce Efforts To Advocate For Oneida Prisons

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., Senator Joseph A. Griffo, Senator David Valesky, Member of Assembly Claudia Tenney, Marcy Supervisor Brian Scala, and City of Rome Mayor James F. Brown joined leaders and members of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association and other local elected officials today to announce that they are assembling a strategy to show state government that the four state prisons located in Oneida County are cost-effective and should be kept open.

As part of the recently adopted State Budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated that his administration would be identifying 3,700 prison beds to be eliminated by closing selected facilities within the State system. The Governor has said that he would consult with legislative officials before making final determinations.
“Although I have a philosophical problem with closing prisons, because I believe it hurts public safety, the issue before us is how to reduce the state’s facilities costs in the fairest possible way while also providing for appropriate safety conditions for prison guards and the citizens of New York,” Griffo said. “We need to avoid a system that is built to justify certain closings, and look at a system of evaluating prisons that is fair and is driven by actual savings.”
 
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr., said, "Aside from the obvious potential public safety issues involved with the closing of prisons, we also need to look at the economic impact that the closing of these prisons would have on our region." He went on to say, "The prisons in Oneida County serve additional purpose aside from housing inmates, such as providing low-cost food operations, which serves the entire New York State prison system and the soon to be complete automated central pharmacy, which will do the same. We also have Walsh Regional Medical Unit that provides long term care for inmates. These cost-saving programs along with our centralized location make these prisons unique and invaluable to the Department of Corrections."
 
Griffo said that he wants to see all criteria by which the Executive Branch will evaluate prisons, and to see how all facilities score. “This needs to be a very transparent, open process so that we can see how the state is making its decisions, so that we can interject to correct misinformation as necessary, and so that the people of New York State can feel confident that the decisions being made are the best ones.”