More than 100 state employees from seven area prisons met here Monday evening and discussed how to resist layoffs under Gov. Cuomo's $1 billion deficit reduction plan.
"We've got to find other means of changing the budget so we can keep our jobs," said Cindy Perkins, coordinator of the meeting in the Albion Education Center, down the street from Albion Correctional Facility. "There are a lot of cost-effective savings that we can propose."
Rand Cardell, president of the Public Employees Federation, said his first concern was prison employees scheduled to lose their jobs Dec. 26.
"We have 274 PEF members and about 300 Council 82 members hitting the street the day after Christmas," he said. "And then the (state corrections) commissioner is talking about 3,500 jobs throughout the state next year."
William Poole, president of Council 82, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said people living in communities surrounding the prisons will be endangered if Gov. Cuomo's entire plan is put into effect.
The plan includes saving money by releasing inmates into the community six months before they are eligible for parole. Under this "day reporting" system, they would be required to report daily to the institution.
"Any convicted felon -- regardless of what crime he committed -- will be released without being required to have a job or live with his family," Poole told the gathering. "The residents of these communities need to be told what these people in Albany are asking them to do. They're cutting our throats. None of these politicians ran for office on a platform to release convicts."
Darrell Johnson, a corrections officer at the Albion facility, drew a round of applause when he said: "Are 6,000 prisoners going to report every day? We corrections officers have been trained in how to deal with convicts. But my wife and children haven't."
Area correctional facilities affected by the plan include Attica, Wende, Collins, Groveland, Albion, Orleans and Wyoming County.
The state hopes to save $185 million by laying off correctional employees and through such changes as the "hub" concept, in which half a dozen prisons would pool their inmates and specialize in such functions as food preparation, medical services, maintenance and work programs.
Employees at the meeting asked how prisoners would be transported among several prisons and what would happen if bad weather or other problems caused a shutdown in the central food facility.