Since Cuomo became governor in 2011, New York has closed nearly 20 prisons. The main reason for the closures is the declining incarcerated population. Over a 22-year period, the number of incarcerated individuals has decreased from 72,649 to 31,412, a 56.8% drop.
The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has eliminated more than 9,400 prison beds. The closures have saved the state approximately $282 million annually, according to DOCCS.
When Cuomo proposed additional closures this year, he asked the state Legislature to grant him the authority over two fiscal years — 2021-22 and 2022-23. Acting DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci told state legislators in February that “we anticipate additional facility closures in the upcoming two fiscal years.” The number of facility closures wasn’t disclosed, but Annucci said they would eliminate approximately 1,800 beds.
The state Legislature differed on whether to allow Cuomo to expedite more prison closures. The state Senate’s one-house budget would’ve required Cuomo to notify legislative leaders at least 180 days before closing New York prisons. However, the state Assembly’s one-house budget didn’t include any language that would speed up the prison closure process.