ALBANY, 04/03/09 – Senator James L. Seward (R/I/C- Oneonta) joined senate Republicans in offering an amendment to keep three minimum security prisons in upstate New York operating. Under the budget agreement announced by Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver, and Senator Smith, Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County, Camp Gabriels in Franklin County and Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County would be closed without the required twelve month notice required by law.
The closure of the prisons would result in the loss of over 300 jobs in Upstate New York. Senate Democrats voted to defeat the amendment.
“Closing Camp Pharsalia and the other two minimum security prisons is a blow to the upstate economy,” said Senator Seward. “Not only will we be losing these jobs, but local taxpayers will now have to foot the bill for valuable services provided by inmates.”
Senator Seward has successfully fought to keep Camp Pharsalia open in previous budgets, and also supported the twelve month notice requirement.
“Closing these prisons without the twelve month notice, required by law, is just another slap in the face to the hard working individuals who serve as corrections officers,” said Seward. “This closure also takes away a valuable tool in helping prepare inmates for their return to society as productive citizens.”
Along with closing the minimum security prison camps, the public protection portion of the budget also includes major changes to the states drug laws. Senate Republicans offered an amendment to strike the plan from the budget bill, however senate Democrats voted to move forward with the so-called “drug dealer protection act.”
“Losing these minimum security prisons, while releasing drug dealers into our communities is the start of a disturbing trend,” concluded Seward.
The drug law changes are opposed by District Attorneys throughout the state and by local law enforcement organizations.