Best editorial for January 29, 2009

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle wrote today’s best editorial on NYS government and politics: “Close prisons with too many vacant beds“.  The D&C notes that New York’s prison population is the lowest it’s been in a quarter of a century and the Commissioner of the Dept. of Correctional Services has told the Legislature he wants to restructure the system to take out some unneeded capacity.

The real crime is that the Legislature is unlikely to go along because of parochial interests.  Why? Closing even an unneeded minimum security camp means loss of jobs. It appears legislators are too afraid of the corrections union to do what’s right for the taxpayers of the state.

I’m certainly sympathetic to those who might lose their jobs, but being hired to work for government does not come with a life-time guarantee.

The real question is why does the Legislature have the power to prevent the commissioner of the Dept. of Correctional Services and the governor from doing their jobs?  Decisions about closing prisons is not be something that the Legislature should have the power to block.  It’s time for the Governor to fight that battle in the interests of the taxpayers.

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