New York officials haven't announced which prisons will close this year, but state Sen. Bob Antonacci is optimistic about the fate of Auburn Correctional Facility.
Antonacci, R-Onondaga, told The Citizen Tuesday that he doesn't believe Auburn and other maximum security prisons will be closed by the state.
The state budget approved by lawmakers Monday allows Gov. Andrew Cuomo to close up to three state correctional facilities this year. The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will conduct a review of its 54 prisons and determine which should close.
Facility security level is among the factors DOCCS will consider when evaluating its prisons. Other factors include programs available for inmates and the potential reuse of the prison property.
Auburn Correctional Facility is one of the oldest prisons in the U.S. With 700 employees, it is the second to only Auburn Community Hospital as the largest employer in Cayuga County.
Antonacci said he's had conversations with correctional officers at the Auburn prison. If the prison closed, he's aware that it would have a major impact on the local economy.
"I am not, at this point, worried that Auburn is on the chopping block," he continued. "I'm pretty comfortable that this will not affect our district."
While Antonacci isn't concerned about Auburn's fate, he is worried that prisons could close in neighboring districts. In the past, the state has shuttered medium and minimum security facilities.
The state shut down three medium security prisons, including Butler Correctional Facility in Wayne County, and a minimum security prison during the last round of closures in 2014.
There is a medium security prison in Cayuga County. Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia is the county's third-largest employer.
In Seneca County, which is part of state Sen. Pam Helming's district, there is a maximum security prison — Five Points Correctional Facility — and the Willard Drug Treatment Facility.
During the budget debate Sunday, Helming said she has "a real concern" about prison closures. She mentioned potential consequences of shutting down more prisons, such as the increased use of "double-bunking" to house inmates and a rise in inmate-on-staff assaults.
The New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, the union represents correctional officers at state prisons, opposes the prison closures.
There has been no timetable set for when Cuomo will close the prisons. The budget requires him to give state legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, at least 90 days notice before the closures.