Escaped Prisoners

Corrections officers watch an intersection in front of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.

ALBANY — Corrections officers and elected officials say they will stage a rally Saturday morning outside Clinton Annex state prison in Dannemora.

They are expected to urge state officials to shelve a plan calling for the closure of the facility by late March.

The Cuomo administration confirmed two weeks ago Clinton Annex, which is adjacent to the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility, is one of three prisons to be closed March 30 due to a dramatic decline in the statewide population of inmates.

One of those slated to address the demonstrators, Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Plattsburgh, said he has had several conversations with officials at the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, asking them to reconsider the plan to mothball Clinton Annex.

"We can make a case that Clinton Annex is an essential part of the prison system we have here in New York state and certainly to this hub we have here in the North County," Jones, a former corrections officer, said.

John Roberts, a regional vice president for the New York State Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association, said the rally will begin at 11 a.m. in front of the Clinton Annex. Also attending will be state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, and several local officials.

While the union has been assured by state officials no layoffs are now contemplated, Roberts said the closure could force the reassignment of some 200 corrections officers, 14 sergeants, seven lieutenants as well as a small number of civilians represented by the Civil Service Employees Association.

Also facing closure are the Gowanda and Watertown Correctional Facility.

The prison staffers have been worried about job security at the same time many are on the front lines in responding to the COVID-19 epidemic. At least 3,534 inmates have been infected in New York prisons, while the pandemic has claimed the lives of six prison system employees and 27 prisoners.

Roberts said several North Country prisons have been coping with coronavirus outbreaks in recent week, including the main Clinton prison, Great Meadows at Comstock and Ogdensburg.

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