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In the News

Long Camp Pharsalia fight appears lost
“Losing minimum security prisons like Camp Pharsalia while at the same time releasing drug dealers into our communities is the beginning of ‘a disturbing trend,’” said New York Senator James L. Seward last week.”...
Apr 06 2009, The Evening Sun — Melissa deCordova

Prisons closing in GOP districts
“Senate Republicans tried to restore funding for the prisons Thursday, saying the closures would result in the loss of more than 300 jobs, but Senate Democrats defeated the amendment.”...
Apr 05 2009, — Delen Goldberg

Seven upstate Democrats reject all 9 state budget bills
“The state budget cobbled together this week by the Democratic leaders who run state government lacks reforms, raises taxes too much, isn’t friendly enough to businesses and is overly generous to New York City interests at the expense of upstate.”...
Apr 03 2009, The Buffalo News — Tom Precious

Libous promises to keep fighting for Camp Pharsalia
“I don’t have a lot of hope,” the Binghamton Republican said. “But I’m not going to give up.”...
Apr 01 2009, The Evening Sun — Melissa deCordova

NYS budget agreement saves Camp Georgetown
“Winning the fight to keep Camp Georgetown open is a tremendous victory, not just for NYSCOPBA members and the people of central New York, but for inmates who are able to take advantage of the very important programs available through the camp," said Donn Rowe, president of the state Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association. “Eliminating this vital tool to combat recidivism would have been irresponsible and dangerous.”...
Mar 29 2009, The Post Standard — Delen Goldberg

But I guess eliminating Camp Pharsalia is responsible & safe. Good job, guys. Thanks.

Pharsalia, 2 other prisons could close
“The minimum-security prison Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County is one of three upstate prisons being slated for closure based on the state budget negotiated by Democratic leaders.”...
Mar 31 2009, Press & Sun Bulletin — Eric Reinagel

NY budget deal calls for closing 3 prison camps
“Paterson administration officials say Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County, Camp McGregor in Saratoga County and Camp Gabriels in Franklin County would close on or after July 1, saving an estimated $12 million in the budget year that starts Wednesday.”...
Mar 30 2009, Newsday — Michael Virtanen, Associated Press reporter

N.Y. State Leaders Outline Budget Deal
“Reflecting the changing balance of power in the Senate, which came into Democrat control last fall, the budget will close three prisons upstate, which were long protected by Senate Republicans as a source of good jobs in blighted regions.”...
Mar 29 2009, The New York Times — Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim

Fighting for Camp Pharsalia
“‘Savings that they claim, basically I question that. But what they are doing is eliminating jobs. They are going to be moving them out of rural areas. At the same time they’ll be spending economic development dollars to create jobs in rural areas,’ said New York State Assemblyman, Clifford Crouch.”...
Mar 26 2009, WBNG-TV Binghamton — WBNG News

Plan for Prison Closures Stirs Fears
Distressed Towns in Upstate N.Y. Cite Dire Economic Consequences
“Norwich Mayor Joseph P. Maiurano has calculated the cost, for his city, and for surrounding Chenango County, one of New York's poorest: Fifty-nine corrections officers, and their family members, may have to leave the area for jobs in other facilities. About 40 local businesses will lose procurement funds. More than 50 local organizations benefit from the work the inmates provide.”...
Mar 22 2009, Washington Post — Keith B. Richburg

Union disputes benefits of closing four prisons
“NYSCOPBA is calling upon the Legislature to reject the budget proposal to close the four prisons in Franklin, Saratoga, Chenango and Madison counties,” said union President Donn Rowe.”...
Mar 09 2009, Legislative Gazette [PDF] — Matthew Arco

Union opposes proposal to close prisons
“Instead of prison closings, the group [NYSCOPBA] is proposing a range of actions to trim spending from the Department of Correctional Services' main office.”...
Mar 06 2009, Utica Observer Dispatch

Prison guards union leader blasts state
“The commissioner of corrections need look no further than his own main office, which is top-heavy with expensive and unnecessary management,” [said the head of a prison guards’ union].
“More than 900 people work at the department’s central office, not counting numerous administrators at each prison.”...
Mar 06 2009, The Saratogian — Paul Post

Senators visit Gabriels
”State lawmakers are taking a closer look at ways to right-size the state prison system and reform programs by condensing them, without merely closing prisons.”...
Mar 06 2009, Press Republican — Kim Smith Dedam
Related articles:
Mar 06 2009, North Country Public Radio
— Brian Mann
Senators Look To Keep Camp Gabriels Open — MSNBC

New Front In Budget Battle - Prison Closings
”The New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, which represents more than 23,000 employees in the "security services sector" (in other words, prisons), launched a radio ad campaign today in opposition to Gov. David Paterson's proposed closure of four minimum-security prisons.”...
Mar 04 2009, Daily News — Elizabeth Benjamin

State plans to release more inmates from prisons
”The Paterson administration has proposed further emptying New York's prisons by releasing more inmates six months early for good behavior, putting middle-aged convicts into shock camps and punishing technical parole violations with something short of prison. ”...
Feb 20 2009, Auburn Citizen — Associated Press

Municipalities feeling the crunch of state cut backs at Camp Pharsalia
”The battle to keep the minimum security prison camps in Pharsalia and Georgetown from being closed in the sweeping state budget cuts has gained the support of some local municipalities.
”The Village of Greene, among others in the area, has drafted a letter detailing the services that work crews from the camp provide and the cost spared to local taxpayers.”...
Feb 13 2009, The Evening Sun — Tyler Murphy

N.Y. still seeks prison officers
State hiring freeze does not apply because of job’s danger
”Even when there's a hiring freeze in effect, there's still certain critical positions that need to be filled in order to protect the health and safety of average New Yorkers," said Matt Anderson, a spokesman for the state Budget Division. “Correction officers fall into that category.”...
Jan 26 2009, — Heather Senison

Many local residents want prison farms to stay at Woodbourne
“The local prison farms produced more than 2 million quarts of milk and 161,000 pounds of beef for consumption by the inmates — food that will be purchased from vendors once the farms close this spring.
“Advocates say the farms rehabilitated inmates by building their work ethic and sense of responsibility — values that are important no matter where they land.
“When somebody knows they have to go to work, report to a boss, get along with people, those are traits that stay with you for the rest of your life," said Phil Coombe Jr., a Neversink resident and former commissioner of the state correction system.”...
Jan 25 2009, Times Herald-Record — Adam Bosch

Fight to keep prisons open
“All current inmates and employees would be transferred to facilities at least 65 miles away. But Haas says the moved will not save money because the cost to care for inmates remains the same no matter where they are. Between the two prisons [Camp Georgetown and Camp Pharsalia], inmates accumulate almost 190,000 hours of community service per year, working at places like the Vets home, state parks, landfills and the New York State Fair.”...
Jan 06 2009, news10now — Karen Lee

Union to fight closures of Pharsalia, Georgetown facilities
Haas [central region vice president for the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association] said the union does not want the facilities to close and are skeptical of the cost savings to the taxpayer. “We definitely believe they play an integral part in the DOCS system. What we want are correct numbers, we are working for the real numbers,” said Haas.....
Dec 31 2008, Evening Sun — Tyler Murphy

Corrections union to fight Pharsalia's closing
Haas [central region vice president for NYSCOPBA] questioned [the figures NYS Department of Corrections purports it will save], noting the plan calls for no layoffs and still requires inmates to be housed and provided services at other correctional facilities. The Department of Corrections should look at cutting its administrative bureaucracy before closing the camps, he said....
Dec 29 2008, — George Basler

Governor's parole reforms could violate Jenna's Law
Governor David Paterson's proposal to let some violent felons out on parole could violate Jenna's Law. A package of reforms contained in the Governor's budget could lead to the early release of 1600 prisoners including some violent felons.....
Dec 23 2008, — Jim Kenyon

Budget plan would close four prisons
“I am disappointed, but not surprised,” [Assemblyman Clifford] Crouch said. “If you close low-security prisons, you lose a little bit [in the rehabilitation process] because these facilities are nice transitions from the medium to the outside.”

He said the programs that Pharsalia offers not only benefits the surrounding communities by having the inmates do work programs, but it also benefits the prisoners.

“This gives the inmates the opportunities to learn some skills and work with the public.”

Crouch said. “By closing these prisons, you are changing the direction of the way corrections is handled in New York state.”
Dec 22 2008, Legislative Gazette — Chris Mueller

Gov.’s budget targets Camp Pharsalia for closure
Gov. David Paterson’s proposed 2009-10 state budget cuts call for the closure of Camp Pharsalia. This is the second time since November that the governor has aimed to cut back at the minimum security facility, which state officials claim is below 50 percent capacity and needs to be consolidated into other facilities.....
Dec 18 2008, The Evening Sun — Tyler Murphy

Libous to fight for Camp Pharsalia
"We lost 20 percent of our revenue because of the stock market. Those things scare me and I see signs that I didn't see the last four or five times we fought to preserve the camp. That doesn't mean certainly that we're going to give up," said State Senator Tom Libous.
Dec 17 2008, News 10 Now

Budget proposal includes changes to minimum security camps
Among those that are mentioned in the budget include Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County and Camp Georgetown in Madison County....
Dec 17 2008, WKTV

State aims to shut down Camp Pharsalia
Officers' union steward Paul Lashway said closing Pharsalia would devastate the community, removing well-paying jobs and an inmate population that does a lot of free work in Chenango and neighboring counties.
The state Department of Correctional Services estimates closing the camps will save $26 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year. In 2010-11, the state would save $29 million.
Lashway said those numbers were inflated, noting it costs about $2 million to run Pharsalia....
Dec 16 2008, — John Hill

Camp Pharsalia among budget victims
Originally, Camp Pharsalia had four dorms. One was closed four years ago, and now the state is again reducing the number of beds at the facility....
Nov 14 2008, The Evening Sun — Tyler Murphy

State cuts swipe at Camp Pharsalia again
Originally, Camp Pharsalia had four dorms. One was closed four years ago, and now the state is again reducing the number of beds at the facility....
Nov 14 2008, The Evening Sun — Tyler Murphy

Camp Pharsalia Consolidating Housing Units to Cut Costs
A local minimum-security prison evades the state chopping block, but not a second wave of cost-cutting measures....
Nov 10 2008, WGN News, Binghamton

DOCS Lists Consolidations, To Cut Positions
Commissioner of Correctional Services Brian Fischer said the plan reflects savings achieved by consolidating housing units at 14 men’s medium and minimum security correctional facilities, merging two prison infirmaries into one, decommissioning prison farm operations, eliminating transportation of inmates among correctional facilities one day per week and minimal reassignment of staff to facilities with greater need. These initiatives anticipate a reduction of approximately 134 correction officer positions primarily by eliminating vacant positions, but also through attritions of approximately 44 positions....
Nov 06 2008, North Country Gazette

DOCS will trim $8.7 million from budget
The state Department of Correctional Services will implement a second round of cost-cutting measures designed to save $8.7 million....
Nov 07 2008, Watertown Daily Times — Tom Wanamaker

State Budget Cut Concerns
New York State needs to close the gap on a 47-billion dollar deficit that will stretch 4 years. The Legislature will return for a special session to start slicing at current and future budgets.

“We need to make sure that we’re not just passing the burden back down to the counties and the schools.” says Clifford Crouch, (R) NYS 107th Assembly.

Camp Pharsalia in Norwich has been in jeopardy of closing in recent years.
“We won't get everything that we want, but my fear is that we'll have a, a can package...this is what it vote up or down.” says Crouch...
Oct 29 2008, WBNG — Julianne Sweeney

Keeping Upstate's prisons open a matter of safety for New York
Earlier this year I fought diligently to keep Camp Pharsalia Correctional Facility, in the southeastern part of my district in Chenango County, open. This facility is home to 165 inmates, with 106 employees. This is a transitional facility for inmates that helps to integrate them back into our society and become respectable, hard-working citizens. Camp Pharsalia benefits both the local community and the state as a whole...
Sep 28 2008, — Gary Finch, 123rd NYS Assembly District

Camp Pharsalia Inmate Work Crew Helps Refurbish Holy Family School
New school Principal Gene Chilion said much of the installation work was completed courtesy of George Carnrike Construction and with the help of inmates from Camp Pharsalia...
Sep 18 2008, The Evening Sun — Melissa deCordova

Correctional Services plans cost-cutting steps
This round of cuts comes in response to Gov. Paterson's call for a 3.35 percent reduction in state agency budgets shortly after he took office in March. In July, the governor called for an additional 7 percent in cuts. A DOCS spokesman said further cuts are likely...
Sep 26 2008, Watertown Daily Times — Tom Wanamaker

DOCS Budget Plan Claims to Save $81.6M
Commissioner of Correctional Services Brian Fischer announced dormitory consolidations at 17 medium and minimum security correctional facilities and a reduction of inmate community crews in addition to other efficiencies already in place that will allow the department to reach the 3.35 percent savings goal and achieve a portion of the additional seven percent reduction the Governor called for on July 30.
The commissioner said further efficiencies will be detailed in the coming months...
Sep 26 2008, North Country Gazette

N.Y. Senate Approves Prison Closing Bill
The state of New York will have to give more warning before closing a prison under a bill approved by the Senate.
June 19, 2008, WCAX-TV News
Note: Assembly has yet to approve the measure.

Camp Pharsalia gets another reprieve
“The sun is shining,” said Pharsalia Corrections Officer Mike DiStefano when he heard the news from his home in Norwich, on what was an otherwise cloudy Monday. “First and foremost, we have to thank all those people in the community who supported us. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Apr 01 2008, The Evening Sun — Michael McGuire

Dems Like Prisons Too
Lest you assume that it’s Republicans (and the odd Independence Party member) who have opposed Spitzer’s now-derailed plan to close some upstate prisons, here’s a letter that 20th CD Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, sent to Gov. David Paterson....
Mar 31 2008, Capitol Confidential/Times Union blog — Rick Karlin

“It took long efforts on Saturday and Sunday, but Senators Tom Libous and Jim Seward have won the fight to keep Camp Pharsalia and three other Upstate correctional facilities open....”
Mar 31 2008, WBNG News

3/31 – More bars in more places
Daily News Albany bureau chief Joe Mahoney writes:
“The union for corrections officers, in addition to winning the support of GOP senators and assemblyman, also got a sympathetic ear from Assembly Crime and Corrections Chairman Jeff Aubry (D-Queens) and RoAnn Destito (D-Utica)....”
Mar 31 2008, The Daily Politics

DOCS, unions agree on prison transfer policy
In an attempt to satisfy concerns over the reassignment of employees from New York correctional facilities slated for closure, the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation, reached an agreement with the Department of Correctional Services for corrections officers to voluntarily transfer to other facilities in the state...
Mar 24 2008, Legislative Gazette — Heather Senison

Officials: Camp Pharsalia vital to Chenango’s economy
Figures provided Thursday by Commerce Chenango estimate that the county’s economy would take over a $13 million hit if Camp Pharsalia were to close....
Feb 08 2008, The Evening Sun — Michael McGuire

Correctional Facility Closing Hurts Community
It’s a state decision with a major local impact...
Jan 13 2008, WBNG News — Jessica Light

Spreading Christmas cheer at Camp Pharsalia
In appreciation for all the work the camp inmates do locally throughout the year – like paint churches, labor on road crews, clear flood plains and shore up old buildings – Wednesday a committee of area citizens held the 45th Annual Camp Pharsalia Christmas Party for the minimum security prisoners...
Dec 14 2007, The Evening Sun — Michael McGuire