Gowanda Correctional Facility to close by March 30


GOWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — According to an NYSCOPBA official, the Gowanda Correctional Facility will close by March 30.

The 511 officers at the facility will have a chance to transfer to other facilities.

Officials tell News 4 it is one of three facilities statewide to be closing.

A DOCCS spokesperson says since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the prison population has declined by more than 22,000, a 39% reduction, as of Monday.

“The current DOCCS population is at its lowest level in more than 30 years, with New York leading the nation with the lowest imprisonment rate of any large state,” the spokesperson added.

DOCCS officials say they carefully reviewed the operations at 52 correctional facilities and identified Gowanda, among Watertown and Clinton Annex, for closure.

According to DOCCS, the decision was based on, but not limited to:

  • Physical infrastructure
  • Program offerings
  • Facility security level 
  • Specialized medical and mental health services
  • Other facilities in the area to minimize the impact on staff
  • Potential reuse options
  • Areas of the state where prior closures have occurred to minimize the impact to communities

You can read the full statement from DOCCS below:

Since taking office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has been at the forefront of some of the nation’s most progressive criminal justice reforms by spearheading a series of smart and fair policies that have closed prisons and decreased incarceration rates, brought accountability and transparency to our criminal justice system, protected the rights of victims and upheld due process, all while ensuring New York residents remain safe and secure.

Since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the prison population has declined by more than 22,000 – a 39% reduction – from 57,229 to 34,842 people, as of December 21, 2020. In fact, the current DOCCS population is at its lowest level in more than 30 years, with New York leading the nation with the lowest imprisonment rate of any large state. 

That’s why DOCCS carefully reviewed the operations at its 52 correctional facilities and identified Watertown and Gowanda Correctional Facilities and the Clinton Annex for closure. While conducting the review, DOCCS based the decision on a variety of factors, including but not limited to physical infrastructure, program offerings, facility security level, specialized medical and mental health services, other facilities in the area to minimize the impact to staff, potential reuse options and areas of the State where prior closures have occurred in order to minimize the impact to communities. With the closure of these two facilities and the Clinton-Annex, we will be able to absorb the incarcerated population into vacant beds available at other institutions. These closures will result in an annual savings of approximately $89 million and a reduction of around 2,750 beds.

DOCCS will work closely with the various bargaining units to provide staff opportunities for priority placement via voluntary transfers and will receive priority in terms of employment at other facilities or other state agencies as a result of the formal Civil Service process that is followed with the closure of a correctional facility. DOCCS does not anticipate any layoffs due to these closures.

DOCCS will also work cooperatively with the Office of General Services and Economic Development to facilitate the re-use of the closed facilities. Upon closure, DOCCS will begin the decommission process in order to protect the State assets for potential re-use.”

DOCCS spokesperson

New York State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy released a statement on the closure:

Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he is closing three state prisons and killing thousands of jobs four days before Christmas is as cold-hearted and miserly as you can get.

The hardworking corrections officers and jail employees have been underappreciated and disrespected when they should be receiving compassion and gratitude for working incredibly difficult jobs under horrible conditions. First, he withheld critical PPE from them and now he is ruining their families’ Christmas and putting them on unemployment lines in areas where his policies have crushed local economies giving the displaced workforce very few opportunities. 

Andrew Cuomo deserves an Emmy after all–for his real-life portrayal of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but unlike Scrooge, there is no redemption for his destruction of New Yorkers’ lives.”

Nick Langworthy

Senator Patrick Gallivan also weighed in on the closing, saying:

I am disappointed with the decision by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to close the Gowanda Correctional Facility. 

The impact the decision will have on the dedicated men and women who work at the Gowanda facility and their families, especially at this difficult time for so many people, is concerning, as is the impact this will have on the community. My office will work with DOCCS and the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), AFSCME, CSEA and PEF to ensure the best possible outcome for all those affected.

I thank all of the hard working public servants at the Gowanda Correctional Facility for their professionalism under these very difficult circumstances.”

Sen. Pat Gallivan

State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt also spoke on the closing of the facilities:

Today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo that three upstate correctional facilities will close is not only untimely but demonstrates an ill-will toward hard-working Upstate New Yorkers. It is no secret that Albany has buckled under the pressures of pro-criminal special interest groups, but to make this announcement the week of Christmas is distasteful.

The closure of these three corrections facilities will make our state less safe and devastate the communities where these facilities are located. I urge Governor Cuomo to stand up for Upstate communities and the men and women who serve them by immediately reversing this decision. 

We thank the brave men and women who showed up every day to ensure the protection of New York’s residents – you deserve better.”

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt

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