ALBANY, N.Y. — The state recently closed the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island, the seventh prison, camp or work release facility shuttered in 2011 as New York transferred about 2,600 inmates and 1,400 staff to its 60 remaining penal units in an effort to save millions of dollars and remove excess capacity.
As the inmate population dropped to about 56,000 currently, continuing a decade-long decline, the Cuomo administration this summer closed two other medium-security prisons, Mid-Orange in the lower Hudson Valley and Oneida in central New York.
Four minimum-security facilities were also shut: Buffalo Work Release in Erie County, Camp Georgetown in Madison County, Summit Shock in Schoharie County and Fulton Work Release in the Bronx.
“It was a herculean process,” said Peter Cutler, spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services. Within a few months, 2,664 inmates were moved, while many staff members were reassigned based on seniority and “bumping” under union contract terms, he said.
“Some people did retire and there were some layoffs,” Cutler said. The recently consolidated corrections and parole department had 30,902 personnel, including 18,454 corrections officers, before the closings were announced June 30. That compared with 29,780 staff, including 17,996 corrections officers, by late December.
Data show 1,427 of the 1,706 staff at the seven facilities transferred within the department, 131 were laid off, 95 retired, 22 went to other agencies and some resigned.
The union representing prison guards, which in June said it was disappointed by the largest prison cuts in state history and that any closing would jeopardize safety and the integrity of the system, declined to comment last week.
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