New York may close more prison facilities amid a decline in the number of people who are incarcerated, but Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday suggested the sites could be converted to help people with substance abuse treatment.
Hochul during her weekly COVID-19 briefing in New York City acknowledged the effect prison closures could have on a region's economy, especially in parts of upstate New York.
"I want to get creative with this," she said. "I don't know if something can be used as a substance abuse treatment center. We don't need as many prisons. The number of people incarcerated as gone down dramatically in our state."
Hochul's predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, closed state prisons and camps across the state over the last decade amid an overall decline in the number of people in prison. Cuomo at the time had argued prisons should not be considered an employment program for upstate New York.
Hochul did not provide any specifics on the closures or how the facilities could be converted. She called the potential closures a "scaling-down initiative" that was based off an analysis done during her first week as governor in August.
"What I found is there are many facilities, particularly upstate, that are only half full," she said.