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After Prison Lockdown, Governor Cuomo Asks For Reform Plan

Great Meadow Correctional Facility
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Great Meadow Correctional Facility

A lockdown was in effect today at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York, in Washington County. Governor Andrew Cuomo visited with officials at the prison and is seeking a plan to reduce similar incidents statewide.

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Anthony Annuci explained Thursday afternoon that a lockdown followed an altercation involving about two dozen inmates.

“Yesterday evening, in the yard, there was a fight amongst the population involving about 20 to 25 inmates. The fight was brought under control, the facility was secured, the inmates were escorted in. And this morning, we started up slowly but there were two incidents,” said Annuci. “So the superintendent requested a lockdown, and I granted that request for the safety of staff and the inmate population as well.”

Officials said there were no injuries to prison employees. Some inmates sustained “minor” injuries. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says there are 1,400 inmates and 745 staff at Great Meadow.

Governor Andrew Cuomo traveled to the maximum security facility in Washington County Thursday afternoon. The Democrat said his office is keeping an eye on a recent increase in prison lockdowns statewide.

“The best way to deal with a problem is prevent it: when you see something developing, see if you can get ahead of it. And there seems to have been a recent increase in the number of violent incidents across the system. There has been an increase in lockdowns as of late, so we wanted to talk about that,” said Cuomo.

Cuomo said typically there are 10 to 12 lockdowns a year. There has been an uptick lately.

The governor said he wants a comprehensive reform plan to reduce incidents by January. He said “technology-based solutions” and K9 units show promise.

New York has 17 maximum security prisons. Since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the state has closed two dozen prisons and juvenile detention centers.

“I have closed more prisons than any governor in the history of the state of New York. And I’m proud of that. Part of it is alternatives to incarceration, etc. Part of it is the legislative changes that have been made. Rockefeller drug laws, etc. So the population is smaller. But the population as a whole are more serious offenders,” said Cuomo.

The governor said New York has a “remarkably good safety track record” and applauded the efforts of corrections officers and personnel.

“Being here, again, today, you get a real sense of how difficult the situation is that they’re dealing with every day, so I applaud all of them,” said Cuomo.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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