Prisons and Prison Closures in New York State

With a 56% reduction in prison population since 2000, 26 prisons in New York State have closed and more are set to be closed. Layering these closures with policies, economic and community impact, pushback, political positions, environmental concerns, as well as the decentralization of the criminal justice system, this research seeks to envision post-prison futures in the rural towns of upstate New York. It also explores the flows and transfers through the prison economy that interconnect these towns and New York City. A range of visions focus on prisons, towns or the system of mass incarceration, and consider state infrastructures- carceral, water, food, power, waste- as urban exostructures.

prison timeline

Prison Towns of New York State

Prison's organization and functioning:

New York State has state and federal prisons, but no private prisons. Their administration and regulation relies on the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), while local governments are in charge of particular policies and programs in each prison. Prison staff and guards don’t always come from the areas where prisons are located. They are institutional workers who are assigned positions within the system as required. All prisoners have to participate in the labor program, which varies from prison to prison. Prisons also offer internal programs for education, vocational training, assistance for physical and mental health, and drug abuse.

Prison Towns of New York State

Prison's organization and functioning:

Over the past 30 years, 26 prisons have closed or are set to be closed. Most of these closed and closing prisons are located in upstate New York.

This is group research of Advanced Architectural Studio VI - Urban Exostructure at GSAPP in Spring 2022.

Project Director:

Laura Kurgan

Project Team:

Overall website build, Tiles of satellite images

Junho Lee

Prison Timeline

Shulong Ren

Mapping prisons and their towns

Yani Gao

Mapping old industries, 8 different prison towns

Ethan Davis, Hyuein Song

9 visions

Tristan Gong, Shan Li

Texts and narrative

Leon Duval, Sanober Khan

Thanks to:

Tung Nguyen, Jia Zhang