Advocates Eye Budget Savings in Prison Closings

As Gov. David Paterson prepares to unveil his next budget plan tomorrow, criminal justice advocates say he could save money by closing prisons. Robert Gangi of the Correctional Association of New York -- says five upstate prisons are under-utilized.

GANGI: The state's prison population has declined by over 10,000 prisoners in the last nine years and the state has not closed one of its 70 correctional facilities.

REPORTER: Gangi says New York could save hundreds of millions of dollars by closing prisons and overhauling the state's Rockefeller drug laws. Opponents say those laws incarcerate thousands of non-violent drug offenders who'd do better with drug treatment.

A spokesman for Paterson said he's waiting for recommendations from the Sentencing Commission on how to deal with the drug laws, and gave no comment on the possibility of closing down prisons.