St. Lawrence County prisons will remain open, North Country state reps pleased
Friday, May 17, 2019 - 3:35 pm

St. Lawrence County prisons will not close this year, according a statement from Department of Corrections and Community Services spokesperson Thomas Mailey.

Livingston Correctional Facility and Lincoln Correctional Facility are slated for closure, according to Mailey.

“The closures will eliminate approximately 1,200 vacant beds without impacting the safety and security of the 52 remaining facilities. The department’s closure plan provides a variety of options for staff to transition to other facilities or state agencies and continue their employment with the state,” Mailey said.

The FY 2020 New York state budget authorizes the closure of two state prisons, with 90 days’ notice to the temporary president of the Senate and the speaker of the assembly.

That announcement drew concern from North Country residents, many of whom are employed by prisons in the area.

North Country politicians were quick to defend to defend the prisons when the announcement was made.

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk and Sen. Patty Ritchie were pleased that prisons in their districts would remain open.

“Today we received word the prisons in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties have been spared closure. Livingston Correctional Facility and Lincoln Correctional Facility are being slated for closure,". Walczyk, R-Watertown, said in a prepared statement. "Given the number of families that would’ve been impacted from the closures, I’m pleased to see that the state understands the impact that these jobs have had on our communities. I will continue to fight for good jobs and ample opportunities here in the Front Yard of America.”

“I’ve said from the start, if the Governor wants to save money by closing prisons, he needs to look downstate at the facilities that have resale value and are the most expensive to operate. Livingston Correctional would be a good example and my hope is that if closures are looked at in future years – they’ll see closing prisons in Manhattan works better for everyone,” Walczyk said.

“I am pleased that Governor Cuomo has decided the five prisons I represent in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties will be kept open,” Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said in a prepared statement.

“Our correctional facilities are among the safest and most efficient in our state. They are critical to the communities in which they exist, and our region as a whole. Not only do they play an important role in the safety of our state, they also support thousands of local jobs that hardworking families depend on—and our region can’t afford to lose. I would like to thank the many men and women who in the weeks leading up to this decision spoke up in defense of the North Country’s correctional facilities, including the nearly 8,000 who signed my 'Protect Our Prisons' petition.”

She also offered praise to the administration.

“In addition, I would also like to express my deepest thanks to the administration for recognizing that when New York State and New York City were facing a crisis in the 1980s—and downstate communities were turning their back on caring for their own residents and family members—the North Country stepped up to help by welcoming these prisons into St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties. I appreciate the Governor recognizing the importance of these facilities to our region, and the critical role they play in the safety of our state.”