Community to rally in support of prison

MINEVILLE - It's not a done deal.

That's the assessment of Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava a week after learning the the Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility has been targeted for closure in April 2011.

The prison facility, which has 102 employees, is to be closed as part of Gov. David Paterson's plan to trim the state budget deficit.

"I've been on the phone everyday talking to anyone who will listen," Scozzafava said. "I have to say they (state officials) have been receptive. They're listening. It's not a done deal."

The facility in Mineville houses non-violent offenders in a military boot camp-type program that involves exercise, physical labor, academics and substance abuse treatment.

It is one of four shock incarceration facilities in the state.

Scozzafava has no problem with budget cuts, but why Moriah Shock?

"That's the question," Scozzafava said. "So far, no one has been able to answer it."

The supervisor said he has requested a face-to-face meeting with Paterson to plead his case.

A community rally to show support for the prison is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Port Henry Knights of Columbus.

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and state Sen. Betty Little have pledged to fight for the Moriah camp.

"I will work hard to prevent the closure of Moriah Shock Correctional Facility," Sayward said. "We can't afford to lose any more jobs in the Adirondacks."

That economic argument is key to saving the Moriah prison, Scozzafava said.

The Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility was constructed in 1988 as part of a state effort to boost the local economy. That same year Moriah was designated as the lone rural state Economic Development Zone.

"That camp (Moriah Shock) is part of a state program to help this area after the economic devastation caused by the closing of the mines," Scozzafava said. "The governor's office nor the Department of Corrections were aware of that history."

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