Saratoga County supervisors speak out against Mount McGregor closure

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
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— Saratoga County supervisors went on record Tuesday opposing New York state’s plans to close the medium-security Mount McGregor prison.

“The main concern is the loss of 300 jobs,” said Supervisor Arthur Johnson, R-Wilton, in whose town most of the prison is located.

The board unanimously voted at a meeting in Ballston Spa to oppose the closure and notify Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials of their position.

The prison is at the top of Mount McGregor, where the towns of Wilton, Corinth and Moreau meet, though access to it is from Wilton. The prison currently has about 450 inmates.

About 320 people work at the prison, and a large percentage of them live in Saratoga County.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced in July that Mount McGregor would be one of four facilities around the state closed because of declining inmate populations, particularly among drug offenders.

The closure would take place next summer. So far, state officials haven’t shown any willingness to cancel their plans.

Johnson, however, noted that local lobbying efforts have succeeded in the past when Mount McGregor was threatened with closure.

In 2004, local officials opposed plans to close Mount McGregor’s minimum-security section, and those plans were later dropped.

The minimum-security portion eventually was closed, however, in 2009, due to inmate population declines. About 80 jobs were lost.

In addition to the loss of jobs for corrections officers and support staff, Johnson said local communities would also lose the help that’s occasionally been provided by inmate work crews. Inmate crews have been allowed at times to paint, clean roadsides and provide other services to local communities and nonprofit organizations.

Johnson said he’s also discussed with representatives of the corrections officers’ union an effort to seek support from the New York State Association of Towns for keeping open all four prisons that are threatened with closure.

The other facilities scheduled to be closed next year are the Monterey Shock camp in Schuyler County and the medium-security prisons at Butler in Wayne County and Chateaugay in Franklin County. State officials said the four closings will save $30 million annually.

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