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Resident fears a prison in Albion may be vulnerable to being closed by governor

Posted 8 April 2019 at 8:21 am

Editor:

My mother (God rest her soul!) was a seasoned corrections officer at the Albion Correctional Facility in 1971, when the women’s prison was abruptly closed, supposedly due to a state financial crisis.

She endured reassignment to Bedford Hills, making the long commute to near New York City twice a week and bunking with fellow officers during the week. With no little thanks to the Senate Majority Leader Earl Brydges, a Republican, the prison was eventually re-opened and has remained so for almost 50 years.

In spite of national prosperity, New York State now finds itself in another financial bind, and combined with a significant reduction in the number of inmates/clients, at least three prisons are slated to be shuttered under terms of the current state budget. Albion has been on the short list before, but the Republican-controlled Senate has always nixed any upstate closures. With Democrats now exclusively in control of Albany, Albion is virtually defenseless as it faces the likelihood of closure. This time, the men’s unit, Orleans Correctional Facility, is a prime target.

The Governor says he will rely on the recommendation of the corrections department to determine the closures, but in reality, the decision is strictly his. He has said more than once that he doesn’t view prisons as a jobs creation program for upstate. Factors such as distance from the home residence of inmates/clients (i.e.: New York City) to the prisons will be given prime consideration when shut down decisions are made.

But, this is New York, and politics as well as economics and social calculus will surely factor in the Governor’s decision. With its strident opposition to the Governor’s alternative energy program (i.e.: wind power), Orleans County has not favored itself in the Governor’s eyes. Local pols have piled on in their vocal and unceasing disdain for the two wind energy projects in progress in Orleans County. Certainly the Governor and his political advisors are aware of this opposition.

Will S.O.S. and its political minions be the deciding factor in closing down the Orleans Correctional Facility? Stay tuned.

Ralph E. Smith

Lyndonville