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Budget Knife Is Aimed At Prison System In N.Y.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

We begin with Brian Mann in Ogdensburg in Upstate New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR MOTOR)

BRIAN MANN: This is a prison town. For 30 years two state correctional facilities have anchored the local economy. Hundreds of people work behind the bars. But now Governor Andrew Cuomo, as part of a budget cutting effort, is talking about closing five prisons statewide, and people here are worried.

CHAD STICKNEY: For Ogdensburg to lose either prison, Riverview or Ogdensburg Correctional, would be economically devastating.

MANN: Here he is speaking earlier this year in his State of the State address.

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ANDREW CUOMO: An incarceration program is not an employment program. If people need jobs, let's get people jobs. Don't put other people in prison to give some people jobs.

MANN: Prison guard Chad Stickney says his industry is collapsing and those officers who can afford to retire or find other work are getting out.

STICKNEY: Right now we're losing a rate of 70 to 80 officers a month. And with no academy running, they have to close prisons, just to keep up with retirements.

MANN: Katie Morgan runs the Busy Corner Cafe. She says even without a prison closure, things here are hard.

KATIE MORGAN: Taking money away from them(ph) would make it a lot worse. They're one of these people going out and buying food and tipping the waitress, just going somewhere else, and Wal-Mart, whatever.

MANN: For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann in Upstate New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.