What will replace Lincoln Correctional?


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The prison on West 110th Street is slated to close this fall


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  • Lincoln Correctional Facility. Photo: Jason Cohen




By Jason Cohen

With the impending closure of Lincoln Correctional Facility, the question is what will replace the building that overlooks Central Park.

The prison, located at 31–33 West 110th, has been primarily used as a work-release program for nonviolent drug offenders since 1991 and currently has 275 inmates.

On May 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Lincoln Correctional and Livingston Correctional Facility in Livingston County would shutter their doors Sept. 1. This will make a total of 13 prisons the governor has closed since he took office in 2011.

According to Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Spokesman Thomas Mailey, the prison population has declined by more than 10,500 since Cuomo took office. In fact, the current population is at its lowest level in 30 years and leads the nation with the lowest imprisonment rate of any large state. From its peak of 72,773 20 years ago, the population has decreased by over 26,000 people — a 35.8 percent reduction.

While realtors are speculating the prison could be prime real estate for luxury housing, Jack Sterne, press secretary for the government-run Empire State Development, who is handling the sale of the property, said that is not true.

“ESD is in the early stages of our due diligence, and there are no plans for the site at this time,” Sterne said. “Before any steps are taken toward redevelopment, we will solicit input from local stakeholders and neighborhood leaders. We are at a very preliminary step in the process, and we look forward to working with the Harlem community to help shape the future of this project.”

Borough President Gale Brewer does not want the prison flipped into condos, said her Press Secretary Courtney McGee. McGee explained the BP is hopeful the building can be landmarked or converted to affordable housing.

“Gail is really adamant about the community having input,” McGee said. “She doesn’t want this to be sold off and built into a high rise.”

Mailey explained that the selection of facilities was based on a thorough review of the operations at the 54 correctional facilities in the state. This involved a variety of factors, including, physical infrastructure, program offerings, facility security level, specialized medical and mental care, potential reuse and the proximity of other correctional facilities to minimize the impact to the workforce.

“These closures are a result of the governor’s successful progressive criminal justice reforms that have led to a historic decrease in crime, including both violent and property offenses, as well as individuals incarcerated in New York State prisons,” Mailey said. “In 2017, reported crime reached an all-time low since statewide reporting began in 1975. Preliminary data for 2018 shows that crime continued to decline for the sixth consecutive year and will mark yet another historic low. This has cemented New York’s position as the safest large state in the nation.”





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