Local officials feel “blindsided” in Southport Correctional closure; Hochul’s Office says notice was given

Local News

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Officials across the Southern Tier still grappling with the news that the maximum-security Southport Correctional Facility will be closing next year. They feel blindsided and without answers, as they claim they were not privy to the closure prior to the announcement.

“I was contacted at about 1:30 pm yesterday by the Superintendent of Corrections, who apologizes for not having an opportunity to reach out sooner,” County Executive Christopher Moss said.

An official with the Hochul Administration confirmed to 18 News that advance notice was given to local leaders because it is required by New York State law. The Department of Corrections said in a statement that notice is not required but was given in the interest of transparency. It is unclear if notice was given prior to the announcement or after.

“While not required, in the interest of transparency, after the unions and staff were notified, the DOCCS Acting Commissioner and Executive Deputy Commissioner, made calls to the elected state and local officials in the areas in which prisons will be closing.”

Thomas Mailey, Public Information Officer DOCCS

As part of the New York Consolidated Laws- Corrections Article 4 Section 79-A, advance notice must be given to the local government and plans to minimize the impact of the closure must be in place. This closure is fast-tracked, which is part of the Legislative Budget for 2021-2022. Under non-fast-tracked circumstances, the State would have to give 365 days’ notice before the closure. That is no longer required.

Several families could be displaced and the reassignment strategy for both inmates and officers is still unknown.

“We’re being advised there will be no layoffs. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to create hardships for individuals. We really can’t put a finger on what the economic downturn is going to be,” Moss continued.

The Governor’s Office says this will save taxpayer dollars, but what about the millions poured into the Southport Correctional Facility already.

“[More than] 20 million dollars of taxpayer money was invested there and now they make this decision to close down this facility,” Assemblymember Phil Palmesano, District 132 (R), said.

As for the building, it may remain idle like others in the state from previous closures.

“I remember when we had this debate over Livingston Correctional Facility in Livingston County,” Palmesano remarked.

The Livingston facility is closed and still unused. The fate of the Southport Correctional Facility is closure, but the path to get there is muddied.

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