Governor’s Budget Maintains Some Support for Prisoner Reentry
Governor Cuomo has proposed steep cuts in New York State spending as part of his first budget released yesterday. Citing declines in the state’s inmate and parole populations, his budget projects that 1500 fewer parolees will be under supervision in the coming year fiscal year that begins April 1, 2011. As a result, the budget projects a savings of 3.7 million from a reduction in Parole staffing as well as 1.8 million in Parole “staffing controls” that are anticipated to reduce overtime. The Governor is also proposing that the State’s Division of Parole merge with the Department of Corrections.
The Budget also chops 273 million from the NYS Department of Correctional Services resulting from the closure of one minimum security prison and half of another in January 2011 (the current fiscal year). The Budget recommends closing an additional 2 prisons in the next fiscal year. The state’s prisons population, which peaked at 71,600 in 1999, is expected to drop another 2100 in the current and next fiscal year to a total of 57,600 inmates – a 21% decrease.
It is not all bad news for advocates of smart criminal justice policies. The Budget also includes continued support for the state’s prisoner reentry initiative. The NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) will continue to coordinate the state’s reentry effort. The Budget includes 3.3 million dollars for local Country Reentry Task Force programs (this funding supports the work of the Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force). The Budget also includes the following statement of support for Parole’s reentry efforts.
“As part of the effort to reduce recidivism through a focus on community re-entry, the Division of Parole will continue its cooperative efforts with the Department of Correctional Services to expand re-entry programs. The goal is to create a more seamless system for assessing the needs of offenders, ensuring access to services, maintaining accurate records of offender information, and addressing other factors essential to successful community re-entry.”
New York State has reduced both crime and incarceration over the past ten years through the adoption of progressive smart on crime polices. The proposed budget signals support for smart justice policies like reentry.