Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility Rally Held in Albany

Posted March 13, 2014

Rally for Camp Monterey in Albany
By Ashley Hupfl, The Star-Gazette, 3/11/14

ALBANY — Correctional facility workers and lawmakers rallied Tuesday at the Capitol to protest the closing of four correctional facilities later this year.

Last July, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced four facilities would close as part of the state’s plan to consolidate its prison system. The Butler Correctional Facility in Red Creek, Wayne County, and Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Schuyler County — which employs about 700 workers — are two of the facilities slated to close July 26.

“Monterey is in my district, but I’m here today to support all the four facilities that are slated to be closed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, said at the rally. “This governor talks about saving the property taxpayers; nothing provides greater support in our communities where I come from than the Monterey work crews that go out and provide vital services across the community.”

Inmate crews from Camp Monterey provided Schuyler County municipalities with 22,500 hours of work assistance in 2012, representing a savings to taxpayers of $391,725, according to the legislature's September resolution opposing the closing.

Additionally, the City of Elmira estimates it received 2,442 work hours from Monterey inmates in 2013, saving the city an estimated $73,000 in payroll hours.

Monterey Shock was New York’s first shock facility started by former Gov. Mario Cuomo and is currently one of three shock facilities in the state. The facility celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012.

According to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Shock Incarceration Program is available for selected inmates to provide exercise, work therapy, education, pre-release counseling and life skills counseling while incarcerated.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning, knocked Cuomo’s plan to provide free colleges courses to inmates to reduce recidivism rates.

“More importantly, [the Monterey Shock facility] saves and changes lives,” Palmesano said. “You want to talk about recidivism, our shock program, Monterey Shock, has a 7 percent recidivism rate. You want to shape someone up, put them in Shock, expand Shock opportunities not diminish them.”

The state Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association, the union, provided transportation for members to the Capitol where about 200 NYSCOPBA members rallied.

“I have 2,700 active and retired members who advise me every single day and that is the people, whether it’s the executive branch or the Legislature, should be listening to,” said Donn Rowe, president of NYSCOPBA. “Governor Cuomo, the state Legislature have to remember one thing and one thing only: public safety is the number one priority of government.”

The state’s prison population has fallen from a peak of 72,600 in 1999 to about 54,200 – the lowest level in more than two decades and due in part to loosened laws for drug crimes. The state has closed nine prisons in recent years and has 58 facilities.

Cuomo has defended the closures, saying it saves the state money and that prisons shouldn’t be kept open solely for the jobs.

Cuomo is also supporting a proposal in which teenagers under the age of 18 would be legally treated as children in the criminal justice system. New York is one of two states in the country that has a law in which 16 and 17 year-olds charged with felonies are sent to adult prisons.

Two other medium-security facilities are slated to close in July: Chateaugay Correctional Facility in Franklin County and Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Saratoga County.

(For full story and videos, please visit http://www.stargazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014303110041.)

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