Legislation proposed in Gov. Kathy Hochul's executive budget would allow New York to close up to five correctional facilities with 90 days' notice.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said the language allows the state to act "expeditiously to right-size and eliminate excess capacity," thus increasing operational efficiency.

"This is the only area the Democrats want to shrink government is when it comes to the criminal justice system," New York state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, said.

The state Division of Budget projects closures to save $77 million in the 2025 fiscal year and $128 million in the first full year they are implemented. It said there could be fewer than five closures.

DOCCS said the facilities have not yet been identified but Ortt suspects the governor knows where they are.

"We know where these prisons are," he said. "These prisons are going to be upstate and they are going to be in my members' districts, in districts led by Republican senators, Republican assemblymembers."

The New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association objects to the proposal, saying it is deeply concerned closures will exacerbate prison violence and cause relocated staff to quit or retire.

It said DOCCS data shows prisons are more dangerous than ever for staff and individuals who are incarcerated.

"Our focus is to have safe prisons with better staffed, better resourced, because people still need to go to jail unfortunately, as we know, and our feeling is we should be putting people in jail rather than closing prisons around the state," Ortt said.

While proponents said the closures should actually help address significant staffing shortages, the union said the solution is to keep prisons open, spread out the incarcerated individual population, and to add more staff as quickly as possible. It's asking the Legislature to support efforts to increase salaries and additional financial incentives in its collective bargaining agreement.