IDC Takes Hit In Prison Closures

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The Senate Independent Democratic Conference suffered three prison closures in their districts today, with two in Sen. David Valesky’s Syracuse-area district.

A third was in Sen. David Carlucci’s district: the closure of the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility in Orange County.

In the state budget, Senate Republicans ceded authority to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to close nearly 3,800 beds in the prison system — an unprecedented move for a conference who long protected prisons, and the jobs that come with them, in their districts. There was a general belief that Republicans handed over the authority to Cuomo with the assurance the closures would be geographically and politically fair.

So only three of the seven closures announced today are in districts controlled by Senate Republicans. And they are all in safe GOP districts.

The Summit Shock facility in Schoharie County is in Republican Sen. James Seward’s district; the Arthur Kill facility is in Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza’s district; and the Buffalo Work Release facility is in Republican Sen. Pat Gallivan’s district.

Another is the Fulton Work Release facility in the Bronx, which is represented by Democratic Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson.

Valesky’s seat has long been a coveted one for Democrats and Republicans. But now he’ll face voters next year with two prison closures in his district, including the largest one to close, Oneida Correctional Facility, which has nearly 1,200 beds and nearly 600 employees. The other is Camp Georgetown in Madison County.

In January, Valesky and Carlucci joined Democratic Sens. Jeff Klein of the Bronx and Diane Savino of Staten Island to form its own conference, drawing the ire of their Democratic colleagues.

Carlucci said in a statement he’ll work with the state to ensure a smooth transition for the prison closure in his district.

“I am working with the Cuomo administration and the supervisor of Warwick to deal with the potential impact to my constituents if this facility is closed,” he said in a statement.

Rich Azzopardi, spokesman for the conference, said the senators are hopeful that the jobs will be preserved from the prisons in their districts.

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