New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will close seven of New York state's dozens of prisons, reports the New York Times. Five are upstate, where prisons are a major source of jobs. Cuomo spared several large prisons in the northernmost section of the state, where legislators had warned of possible economic ruin if the prisons were closed. He did not shut down any maximum-security prisons, which have no surplus of beds.
Cuomo, facing a $10 billion budget gap, has made closing prisons and juvenile detention centers a key goal from the start, saying that “an incarceration program is not an employment program.” The State Office of Children and Family Services announced earlier that it would close four youth detention facilities and downsize four others. The closings will allow the prison system, which houses 56,000 inmates, to shed about 3,800 of its 64,000 beds. Closing the seven prisons, which operate at 70 percent capacity, and moving inmates to other facilities will save $184 million over two years.