May 23, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Launch of Prison Redevelopment Commission

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Governor Hochul Announces Launch of Prison Redevelopment Commission
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Panel of Leading Experts across Community and Economic Development, Real Estate, Criminal Justice Reform, and Government Will Convene to Examine Repurposing Shuttered Correctional Facilities in Impacted Communities

Empire State Development President & CEO Hope Knight and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker Named Co-Chairs

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the ​launch of the Prison Redevelopment Commission focused on reimagin​ing closed prisons for innovative redevelopment opportunities across New York State. The fifteen-member panel, first announced as part of Governor Hochul’s 2022 State of the State address, is comprised of leading experts across real estate, community and economic development, ​criminal justice reform, and government. ​The panel will be led by Hope Knight, Commissioner, President and CEO of Empire State Development and Darren Walker, President at the Ford Foundation.

“As New York continues to move forward, we are looking at ways to revitalize our economy, including reimagining shuttered state prison properties as hubs of regional opportunity,” Governor Hochul said. “As I promised in my State of the State, I have created a commission of public and private sector leaders, as well as economic development experts from around the country, to best connect our industry and workforce goals with action plans that will both save taxpayer money and bring these buildings to new life as economic engines. Our ultimate goal is to put New Yorkers to work, and I am confident this newly formed Prison Redevelopment Commission will help create an action plan to do just that.” 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “I am proud to accept Governor Hochul’s invitation to be co-leader of the newly created Prison Redevelopment Commission, and I look forward to working with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker and the expert members of this panel to make the Governor’s idea a reality. Workforce development is a priority for both the Governor and for ESD, and repurposing these former prison spaces into sites that can address regional industry needs will help to revive areas across the state, by moving from incarceration to innovation.”  

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, said, "Closing prisons is critical to address the blight of mass incarceration, but it can’t end there — to achieve justice for all, we must turn every stone and explore prison redevelopment opportunities that ensure individuals and communities have the economic opportunities needed to thrive. I am honored to join Governor Hochul’s prison redevelopment commission to position New York as a leader in reducing prison populations and improving the well-being of communities, towards safety, opportunity and justice for all.”      

Elizabeth Gaynes, the Osborne Association's Former President and CEO, said, "It's been over a century since the Osborne Association's founder was warden of Sing Sing and vowed to 'turn this scrap heap into a repair shop. Since that time, Osborne has been committed to transforming prisons for the people who live in them, visit them and work in them. But while dozens of prisons have opened and closed during that time, there has never been the opportunity to strengthen New York's economy and meet the needs of communities affected by closures that is now possible through this Commission. For more than six years, Osborne has been working -- with the support of the State, New York City, private philanthropy, commercial lenders, and the people of the Bronx -- to convert the decommissioned Fulton Correctional Facility into a community reentry center providing transitional housing to more than 130 people coming home from prison. I am excited to bring my experiences from that effort, and from decades of working in prisons in every part of the state, to this commission and to learn from stakeholders about how these resources can be repurposed to meet community needs." 

New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen Acquario said, “Counties appreciate Governor Hochul addressing community concerns associated with state correctional facility closures. We have a unique opportunity to repurpose, reimagine and rethink how to leverage this existing infrastructure to promote economic growth. I look forward to working with the committee to explore new ideas and strategies for transforming these facilities into assets that improve and strengthen our communities.” 

In her State of the State earlier this year, Governor Hochul announced that she would form the commission to analyze prison redevelopment opportunities that serve the state’s economic needs and recommend a clear and credible plan of action. The closures identified by Governor Hochul last fall are in addition to the more than twenty that have been closed over the last fifteen years. The closures provide an opportunity to transform these facilities in more creative and productive ways​, paving the way for opportunities to spur investment and job creation. 

The commission includes leadership from State agencies as well as foundations, regional leaders and stakeholders, and economic development experts who will be focused on developing an action plan to turn empty prisons, many of which were job centers in their rural communities, into opportunities for communities to thrive. The commission’s first meeting was held today. 

The members of the Commission are:                       

Anthony Annucci, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision  

Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 

Jeanette Moy, Commissioner, Office of General Services  

Robert Mujica, Director, New York State Division of Budget 

Roberta Reardon, Commissioner, New York State Department of Labor  

Steve Acquario, Executive Director, New York State Association of Counties 

Deborah Berke, Founding Partner, Deborah Berke Partners

Heather Briccetti, President and CEO, The Business Council of New York State

Jeff Buell, Principal, Redburn Development 

David Buicko, President and CEO, Galesi Group 

Penny Hill, Dean for Economic Development and Workforce Initiatives, Hudson Valley Community College 

Christa Hines, Executive Director, Hudson River Housing 

Stanley Richards, Deputy CEO, Fortune Society

Ryan Silva, Executive Director, New York State Economic Development Council

Deanna Van Buren, Founder, Designing Justice and Designing Spaces 

Elizabeth Gaynes, Former President and CEO of the Osborne Association

The commission will convene throughout this year to engage in policy discussions, hear presentations from industry experts, and identify areas for deeper analysis. To help inform the commission’s analysis, the State and ESD will engage with stakeholders representing each prison’s region for local feedback and perspective on future uses for the facilities that meet the area’s needs. Following this process, the commission will produce a public report, including recommendations for next steps.  

For more information, please visit the New York State Prison Redevelopment Commission’s website. 

Department of Corrections and Community Services Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, “During the Department’s expansion in the early 1990’s, communities across New York welcomed the development of new prisons. Today, as the incarcerated population declines and correctional facilities close, it is critical that we identify reuses for these properties to support the communities that accepted the facilities decades ago.”

Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said, “I am honored to serve alongside the accomplished members the Prison Redevelopment Commission. My agency looks forward to assisting in the reuse of these facilities to spur economic growth and job creation, promote community development, and preserve local heritage.”

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “Governor Hochul is making the productive reuse of closed prisons throughout the state a priority for her administration. As a member of the new Prison Redevelopment Commission, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors on identifying opportunities to redevelop these properties in ways that will bolster the state’s economy and benefit communities throughout New York.”

Division of the Budget Director Robert F. Mujica, Jr. said, “This commission represents an opportunity to reimagine these properties and boost local communities, especially upstate. I’m proud to serve on this important commission which brings together important stakeholders from government, advocacy groups and the private sector to implement Governor Hochul’s vision for a revitalized economy throughout New York.”

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Reimagining new life for shuttered structures is what New York has always done best. New life means another chance to create new career opportunities for residents of these communities. I am proud to collaborate with some of the greatest economic minds in New York State to come up with solutions that spark new revitalization projects to benefit these communities and our skilled workforce.”

Deborah Berke, Founding Partner at Deborah Berke Partners said, “It's time to rethink these structures, reconnecting them to their communities, forging and mending their relationships to their surrounds and their people.”  

Heather Briccetti, President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State said, “Through Governor Hochul’s vision, New York State and private sector companies can seek to invest in real economic development opportunities in many upstate communities seeking a reset or expansion of their economic footprint. I am excited to get to work and am proud to be part of the group charged with this important task.”

Jeffrey Buell, Principal at Redburn Development said, “Across the whole of New York State there are opportunities before us to reimagine what life could be in the future. In this instance, this group is tasked with creating a redevelopment plan that comes with it generations of sorrow. The economic prosperities of different communities are wide-ranging, there is no one size fits all approach, and I am honored to even join the conversation, and look forward to this very challenging task.” 

David Buicko, President and CEO of the Galesi Group said, “am excited to be part of this Commission and joining Governor Hochul in taking full advantage of the economic development opportunities presented by reimagining the former state correction facilities for the betterment of their host communities.  The Galesi Group has significant experience in redeveloping former government facilities, creating economic and employment opportunities and returning shuttered facilities back on the tax rolls. I look forward to getting to work immediately.”

Penny Hill, Dean of Economic Development and Workforce Initiatives at Hudson Valley Community College said, “All economic development requires workforce development.  Economic improvement cannot occur without establishing a skilled and dynamic workforce.  Many industries have experienced an increasing skills shortages, negatively impacting their ability to hire. Myself along with Hudson Valley Community College have an interest in re-imagining how these structures could can be rehabbed; to explore expanding workforce development, as well as skills training initiatives around the State.  This would put more New Yorkers to work in better paying, skilled positions while filling the workforce needs of New York industries.  I look forward to working on this exciting project.”

Christa Hines, CPA Executive Director of Hudson River Housing, Inc. said, “Hudson River Housing's mission is to create opportunities for people and places to thrive.  I look forward to being a part of the Prison Redevelopment Commission to help ensure that it will do just that - transform NYS's closed prisons into new places of economic and community prosperity.  As we move forward it will be important that we create ways to hear from residents and local leaders from communities across the state about the best ways to make that happen, and share our experience in creating thriving centers of affordable housing and community development.” 

Stanley Richards, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of The Fortune Society, said, “I commend Governor Hochul for committing to reduce the State's prison footprint and repurpose those facilities to provide economic opportunity to the communities and people who are most impacted. The closure of these prisons symbolizes the State's commitment to reduce its reliance on mass incarceration and heal generations of people who experienced the trauma and collateral lifetime consequences of incarceration. It is our hope that this action will usher in a period of greater economic opportunities for the communities who have been most impacted by incarceration, and in doing so, create a stronger New York.”      

Ryan Silva, Executive Director of New York State Economic Development Council, said, “Adaptive reuse is a critical component of economic development, requiring a strategic plan and partnerships between the public, private, academic, and non-profit sectors. The NYSEDC thanks Governor Hochul for her leadership in establishing this commission, the opportunity to share our experience, and participate on behalf of our members. We look forward to working with all committee members to develop a plan that will modernize these facilities, create economic opportunity, and increase the quality of life across New York State.”

Deanna Van Buren, Founder of Designing Justice and Designing Spaces said, “As the only architecture firm building the infrastructure to end mass incarceration with a focus on restorative reinvestment in communities, Designing Justice + Designing Spaces is thrilled to join this commission to repurpose New York’s shuttered prisons. Our firm’s work with former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on the Atlanta City Detention Center is proof of the regenerative work that can be accomplished by including community in the prioritization of care over carceration.  DJDS specializes in designing and building alternatives to incarceration - an “ecosystem of care” that includes specialized re-entry housing, survivor spaces, spaces for diversion, education, restorative reinvestment and youth.”

State Senator Julia Salazar said, “Governor Hochul has kept her promise to create this commission. It expands the work of prison reform by re-forming closed prison facilities as sites that create jobs and opportunity in communities—jobs that are not dependent on incarceration as an economic engine in New York State. I am encouraged by the partnership and leadership represented on this commission and I look forward to seeing the commission’s further ideas and recommendations.” 

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