A provision in the state budget proposal released on Tuesday night would give Gov. Andrew Cuomo the power to close prisons in New York with three months’ notice.
There are no specific savings outlined for the closures, and the number of prisons that could close is left to be determined.
If approved, the administration would be required to notify the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader of any closures after April 1.
The move would likely mean further prison closures after the prison population in the last 20 years has fallen by more than 25,000 inmates.
A further trimming of state prisons comes during a $6.1 billion budget gap the state needs to fill by the end of March.
New York prison officials have closed 15 prisons in the last decade since Cuomo has been governor, eliminating 6,600 beds along the way.
The proposal is sure to anger Republican lawmakers in mostly upstate communities that have prisons in them and are a source of employment. Republicans are out of power in both houses of the Legislature.
Cuomo's administration has argued, however, that prisons should not be "an economic development strategy" for upstate New York.
Criminal justice advocates have applauded prisons closures as part of an effort to find alternatives to incarceration.