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Prisons in Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, set to close

Southport Correctional Facility, located in Chemung County, will close in March 2022. (Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo/WSKG)
Southport Correctional Facility, located in Chemung County, will close in March 2022. (Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo/WSKG)

By Isabella Cavallo

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) - The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) announced two facilities in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions will close by March 10, 2022. 

The Southport Correctional Facility in Chemung County and the Willard Drug Treatment Campus in Seneca County are among six total prisons closing. 

Southport and Willard employed 405 and 329 people, respectively. DOCCS anticipates no layoffs as all employees can voluntarily transfer and have priority employment at other facilities.

The incarcerated population is at an all-time low in New York; there's been a 56% decline since 1999. New York currently has the lowest incarceration rate of any large state. The decrease can also be attributed to more recent criminal justice reforms.

“New York State continues to be at the forefront of some of the nation’s most progressive criminal justice reforms by spearheading smart and fair policies that have resulted in a drastic decline in the incarcerated population,” DOCCS said in their statement. 

Southport had 286 incarcerated individuals with a capacity of 441 and Willard had 168 inmates with a capacity of 664. 

The incarcerated population at Southport will be moved to vacant beds at other institutions. People at the Willard Drug Treatment Campus will be moved to Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Chautauqua County. The Elmira Correctional Facility will also take people in.

Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor next year, issued a statement calling the prison closures a political move by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Read his full statement below.

“Criminal statutes exist for a reason. If you commit the offense, the criminal should face the consequences. I believe prison populations should be set based strictly on that principle. Kathy Hochul believes prison populations should be set based on political calculations. And get this! Hochul thinks we don't need as many prisons because the inmate population is just naturally decreasing. If there's one thing we know it's not because there's a decrease in crime. It's because one-party rule is decreasing enforcement and siding with criminals over law-abiding New Yorkers.”