MINEVILLE - The Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility - and its 102 jobs - has been spared.
Gov. David Paterson announced last week he has restored funding for the prison, located in the Moriah hamlet of Mineville, in his 2010-11 executive budget. "It's absolutely great news for the community and Essex County," Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. "I day I got the call that they were going to close Moriah Shock was devastating news. This is wonderful news."
Paterson and leaders of the Senate and Assembly, as part of the state budget process, reached an agreement to continue operating the Moriah facility, as well as a medium-security correctional facility in Ogdensburg.
Both facilities had been slated for closure under Paterson's original budget proposal.
Scozzafava made four trips to Albany to lobby the governor and state leaders to keep the prison open. He also met with the governor and other state officials when they came to Crown Point for Lake Champlain Bridge activities.
"It was a team effort from Day 1," Scozzafava said of the effort to save Moriah Shock. "The Essex County Board of Supervisors, County Board Chairman Randy Douglas, the county manager, everyone worked very hard."
Paterson was the key, though, according to Scozzafava. "The governor was willing to meet with us and he listened," Scozzafava said.
Paterson called Scozzafava with the news June 18.
"He told me, 'You people have been hit hard enough with the bridge closing and economy'," Scozzafava related. "He showed real compassion for our residents."
The Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility houses nonviolent 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.
The 200-bed camp employs 102 and is the second-largest employer in Moriah.
Scozzafava said some former inmates contacted state officials asking that Moriah Shock be spared.
"The program is a great service to first time offenders," said Scozzafava, who once worked at the facility. "It's turned around thousands of lives. Even former inmates supported Moriah Shock."
The Moriah supervisor also noted the efforts of state Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. Little brought Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat from Westchester County who is chairwoman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime & Corrections Committee, to Moriah for a tour of the facility.
Besides elected officials, the New York State Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents correction officers, lobbied for Moriah Shock and there were several public rallies to demonstrate community support.
"This agreement recognizes the incredibly challenging fiscal times New York is facing, while also making clear that our public safety cannot be put on the chopping block," said Donn Rowe, president of the New York State Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association.
To further support keeping the prison open, Essex County created an economic analysis of the impact closing the prison would have on Moriah, the county and the region.
The report cited an $8 million annual negative impact on Essex County should the facility close.
Moriah Shock opened in 1989 on the site of the former Republic Steel Fisher Mine. Republic Steel employed more than 600 people when it closed in 1972.