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Shock inmates moved as closure nears

Shock inmates moved as closure nears

Prisoners at the Summit Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility have all been transferred to other

Prisoners at the Summit Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility have all been transferred to other facilities, and the bulk of corrections officers there have chosen alternative working sites, an official said Tuesday.

Summit Shock is one of seven prison facilities targeted for closure in an effort to save the state about $184 million over the next two years.

The announcement in late June dismayed local officials concerned over the loss of jobs in rural Schoharie County, which hasn’t recovered from the loss of Guilford Mills and Storyhouse Corp. a decade ago.

State Department of Correctional Services spokesman Peter K. Cutler said Tuesday that the department is projecting a final closure date of Oct. 1 for Summit Shock, but many employees will be elsewhere long before then.

The facility has a total of 102 employees. Sixty of them work in a corrections capacity — 50 as corrections officers and 10 as sergeants and lieutenants.

The 50 corrections officers were given a July 29 deadline to list eight top choices of places they wanted to transfer to, Cutler said. A total of 44 officers have chosen new assignments. The six who aren’t choosing reassignment will remain at the facility until Oct. 1. The same process was undertaken for lieutenants and sergeants, but it was unclear Tuesday how many chose new assignments, Cutler said.

Those who chose different assignments will be due at their new facility Aug. 15.

The department is similarly looking for other facilities that could accommodate the 42 employees who work in various support and maintenance positions at Summit Shock.

“It’s always been our commitment to look to find the available positions for the employees through vacancies at other facilities,” Cutler said.

The Summit Shock facility had the third-smallest population of the seven facilities slated to close, with 134 inmates living there at the time the closure was announced. All have been transferred to other shock-style facilities.

Cutler said these inmates were moved quickly to avoid interrupting their shock-style imprisonment, which prepares non-violent inmates for early parole release. Using a military-style program, the inmates undergo rigorous physical activity and substance abuse rehabilitation and perform a variety of community service projects.

When the state announced plans to close the facilities, it also promised a $50 million fund to be made available, as well as tax credits, to help communities end their reliance on prisons as a major source of employment.

Schoharie County Planning and Development Director Alicia Terry said it’s too early to tell whether the county will be able to make use of that assistance — the rules for the requests are expected to be ready Oct. 1. Even if it does, Terry said, it will be hard to replace positions like those being lost.

“Those types of jobs, at that pay level and at that benefit level, are going to be very difficult for us to recreate in the private sector,” Terry said.

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