Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Could Hudson Do With $10 Million?

In 2008, the Hudson Correctional Facility was on the list of state prisons to be closed, but, because of local and regional protest, it dodged the bullet. Now, three years later, Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to close as many as ten state prisons in a long-term effort to balance the state budget. To compensate communities for the loss of a prison, he is also proposing that each community losing a correctional facility receive a $10 million economic transformation program grant. It's not clear which prisons may be targeted this time around. The story is on North Country Public Radio News.   


  1. Carole, do you expect the City of Hudson and Columbia County to let the prison close in exchange for $10 million?

    If there are 300 prisoners in the Hudson prison, and the annual cost to taxpayers per New York State inmate is $55,670 (source: National Institute of Corrections), then the prison represents c. $17 million per year of revenue. So, I think a $10 million grant will still be seen as an immediate loss of $7 million.

    (Personally I think it's insane to keep all these prisons going; and I think that in the long run both the City and the County would be better off without the prison economy. But my point is that I do not think that is how either the Board of Supervisors or the City of Hudson will view an effort to close the prison. Look how hard they fought Gov. Spitzer to keep it open.)

    -- Jock Spivy

  2. Jock--I'm simply putting the information out there and asking the question: What could Hudson do with $10 million?

    Besides the $10 million is not an incentive to get communities to agree voluntarily to have their prison close. It's compensation should it be determined that their prison must close.

    In his state of the state address, Cuomo expressed the opinion that using prisons as a jobs and economic development program is morally wrong. I tend to agree with that.

  3. Yes Carole I agree with you re prisons as economic engines. Very destructive on many levels, a losing game, and a measure of the low state of things in upstate New York.

    I've always thought that the reason the stupid Rockefeller drug laws are still on the books is to keep the upstate prison economy going -- that this is why the legislature will not revise them.

    Would a $10 million grant go to Hudson, or to the County, or both? Who decides?

    -- Jock Spivy

  4. It's way premature to ask that question. Cuomo isn't going to identify the prisons he thinks should be closed. Instead he's going to appoint a commission to make those decisions, so we're a long way from even knowing if the Hudson Correctional Facility is on the list.

    I, of course, think Hudson should get all the money, and Hudson should decide on a reuse of the prison buildings that would bring a genuine and beneficial economic transformation. The rest of the county can benefit from that to the extent that they now benefit from there being a prison here in Hudson.

  5. Jock, presumably some portion of that $55,670-per-inmate figure does not accrue directly or even indirectly to the host municipality... Maybe even a majority of it.

    The figure presumably includes Statewide overhead costs; and some of it obviously gets distributed to vendors and employees who do not live in Hudson.

    Moreover, any new project which occupied the location would presumably accrue some similar or offsetting benefits to the host community (employment, taxes), so one needs to look at the full picture -- including both opportunity costs and externalities.

    Either way, while there may be an argument to be made along the lines you've proposed, one suspects the figures need some adjustment -- maybe a lot of adjustment -- when weighing the local angle.

    --Sam P.