More than thirty students from correctional facilities across the region are the first class of graduates from North Country Community College’s Second Chance Pell program.
The Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015, provides need-based Pell grants to people in state and federal prisons through partnerships with 65 colleges in 27 states. NCCC is the only two-year college in the State University of New York system to offer Second Chance Pell, which allows non-violent inmates with less than five years left on their sentences to earn an associate’s degree. The goal of the program is to improve their chances of finding employment upon release from prison. » Continue Reading.
As the one-year anniversary of the infamous Dannemora prison break approaches, here’s the story of an inmate linked to a pair of unusual breakouts, excerpted from my book, Escape from Dannemora.
Despite media stories claiming early on that Richard Matt and David Sweat were the first-ever escapees from Clinton Prison, some in the past did it in even more spectacular fashion, and overall, hundreds managed to escape under various circumstances. Among them was Jack Williams, a participant in two Clinton exits involving unusual components featured in no other Dannemora escapes. » Continue Reading.
The Clinton County Historical Association will host longtime Adirondack Almanack contributor and award winning local author Lawrence Gooley on Monday, December 7.
The program will begin with a 7 pm presentation, “Escape From Dannemora: Breakouts, Tortures, and Violence in Clinton Prison’s Past” featuring an overview of Clinton Prison’s history including details of numerous escapes and attempts, routine punishments and profiles of famous and infamous inmates. » Continue Reading.
On July 29, 1928, Herbert R. Mackie, an inmate at what was then known as Clinton Prison (today called the Clinton Correctional Facility) in Dannemora was being escorted to a practice session for the prison’s band. He told an officer that he had forgotten something, and asked for permission to return to his cell. He was not seen again by prison staff for six weeks.
He was not at liberty during most of that time, however. He was still within the facility, busily digging a tunnel that would be a key part in what seems to have been a carefully planned plot for Mackie to escape the prison with fellow inmate Otto Sanford. » Continue Reading.
The freedom education and human rights project John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is sponsoring a series of summertime lectures by prison historian C. Jefferson Hall on the historical backdrop, the role of nature, and some of the broader implications of the June 2015 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from Dannemora’s Clinton Correctional Facility.
Hall’s talks are part of The Correction, JBL!’s ongoing series of programs and events designed to engage North Country communities in conversation about the impacts of mass incarceration and the need to re-imagine the criminal justice system and local economies. » Continue Reading.
Wilderness advocates in the environmental movement have known for years there is a problem when it comes to diversity and the future of the Adirondacks. We look around the backcountry on an inviting summer weekend and we see people who use, love, and defend New York’s wildest lands. But we don’t see many people of color. » Continue Reading.
The public is invited to a special presentation by acclaimed cartoonist Sabrina Jones brought to you by John Brown Lives! and BluSeed Studios: “Race to Incarcerate: Creating Comics for Social Justice” on Thursday, July 31st at 7:30 pm at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake.
Jones will discuss her recent book, Race To Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling and using comics to confront social issues. Jones’ 2013 book is a graphic adaptation of Marc Mauer’s 1999 Race to Incarcerate, a classic examination of the cultural and political history of prisons in the United States. (Mauer is Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform organization in Washington.) This presentation is part of The Correction, a John Brown Lives! program to inform the public about prison issues in the North Country. » Continue Reading.
Friday morning at 11 o’clock North Country Public Radio will host a live call-in show to talk about the future of the North Country’s prison industry.
With two more prisons set to close in our region this summer, in Franklin and Saratoga counties, people are asking new questions about America’s drug war and about the outlook for prison workers from Ogdenbsurg to Malone to Moriah and Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
Joe Hackett has spent time in prison. Yes, the well known local guide, columnist, and scout for Seventh Avenue has spent years in jail, not as a inmate, but as a recreation coordinator at Camp Gabriels, a former New York State Minimum Security prison shuttered a few years ago by the state.
Once a tuberculosis sanatorium, the 92-acre facility was sold to the state in 1982, which operated it as a 336 bed-prison until 2009. There many of the prisoners worked on forestry and community service-related, projects, yet not-withstanding, it was prison far, far from home and family for the men housed there. For them the “Dacks” was a cold, hostile and distant place.
The prison was built, as were most in the North Country, as an outcome of the ‘War of Drugs’ and in particular Rockefeller Drugs laws that resulted in mass incarceration and a resultant building boom here because most urban and suburban voters did not want prisons located in ‘their back yards.’ Under the leadership of the late Senator Ron Stafford, such projects were welcomed for the many solid salaries they offered and, as a result, New York Corrections is the largest employer in the North Country.
In May 1973, Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed two controversial laws that would change life in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan, which the governor pushed through the state legislature, established new zoning rules for private land that aimed to protect open space and limit residential development. The other law set minimum prison sentences for drug users and pushers.
“I have one goal and one objective, and that is to stop the pushing of drugs and to protect the innocent victim,” the governor insisted, promising that the harsh new penalties would stem the epidemic of cocaine and heroin addiction in New York City.
As it turned out, the Rockefeller drug laws—which also included tough penalties for marijuana use—would rival the land-use regulations in their impact on the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
So here’s the sad truth about my life as a journalist working in the Adirondacks. I wake up pretty much every day here in Saranac Lake wanting you – scratch that, needing you – to do three contradictory things at once. First, I need you to care about what I do. Whether I’m reporting on environmental issues, paddling down a river, or pulling together a year-long investigative series about America’s vast prison complex, I need you to share my conviction that these things matter. In a world of Kardashians, infotainment and blink-and-you-missed it Twitter feeds, those of you who filter past this first step are already the rarest, purest gold.
The second thing I need you to do is put up with the fact that it’s part of my job to be kind of a jerk. Not always, and not unnecessarily, at least I hope. But kind of a lot of the time, it’s important for me to be pretty unlikable. Ben Bradlee, the legendary editor at the Washington Post, was asked once about the backlash he faced for his reporters’ work on Watergate. He said that their job wasn’t to be liked, but to scrap and dig and prod until they found the truth. I’m not in Bradlee’s league, obviously. I’m a small town reporter in rural Upstate New York. » Continue Reading.
After NYS Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater went missing in New York City in 1930, the search led to Plattsburgh and then to the Meridian Hotel, a few feet across the border from Champlain.
Nothing concrete was found in New York’s northeastern corner, but a few days later, Crater was sighted at Fourth Lake in the Old Forge area. He was also “positively” identified as one of two men seen at a Raquette Lake hunting lodge in late August. Two detectives followed that trail, while others were summoned to confirm a sighting at the Ausable Club near Keene Valley. As if that wasn’t enough, it was announced that Crater had spent a couple of days at Hulett’s Landing on the eastern shore of Lake George, and then at Brant Lake. Police and detectives pursued every lead, while headlines told the story from New York to Texas to Seattle. » Continue Reading.
Here are some of the Adirondack Park related highlights from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2011-12 Executive Budget, his first plan for closing the state’s estimated $11 billion deficit.
Cuomo’s budget plan would maintain the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) at $134 million, the same spending level as in the current budget, but would further reduce the budgets of the Adirondack Park Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, close several prisons (possibly including some in the North Country), and disband the Tug Hill Commission. “We have to consider this a victory,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) said in a statement about EPF funding. “Under the circumstances, it could have been much worse. Deep cuts in the EPF would have had a substantial and long-lasting impact on New York’s natural resources. Fortunately, Governor Cuomo had the wisdom and foresight not to do that.” » Continue Reading.
Of all the recent press about the State’s attempted sale of 92-acre former minimum security prison known as Camp Gabriels in the town of Brighton, nothing has yet been written about the small problem of the NYS Constitution which says that the lands of the state now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve, as now fixed by law…shall not be leased, sold or exchanged” (Article 14, Section 1).
Are the 92-acres of Camp Gabriels, in fact, Forest Preserve lands which the State unconstitutionally used for purposes of a minimum security prison? And, despite their developed condition, can the State now simply dispose of them like any other “surplus” property? » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Bracket fans, welcome to the Benzene-Toluene-Ephedrine-Iodine-Phenylpropanolamine-Crystal methamphetamine-Sweet-Sixteen. The field is narrowing and the narrative is coming into focus. Chris Kowanko, the Renderer bros. and the whole crowd at Upper Jay Upholstery and Furniture —home to the Recovery Lounge—got the stuffing knocked out of them by a handful of bad mushrooms. They could have benefitted from a class in basic mycology. The mushrooms now face pond hockey, which put those cougar sightings on ice, and is said to be making a real comeback (beats waiting for the peewees to clear out of the rink). The town of Black Brook, coached by Howard Aubin and LeRoy Douglas, displayed their unique style of environmental sensitivity with a proper burial of Jenks swamp, the state-protected wetland bisected by the Adirondack Northway, that nobody in their right mind would have built on anyway. Their pep squad of attorneys chanted from the sidelines, “make a federal case out of it!”
UPDATE: Black Brook now faces an equally potent wetlands menace in Triclopyr. This APA-sanctioned herbicide will be applied to Eurasian watermilfoil beds in Lake Luzerne. The public has been assured that this chemical will not harm grasses in areas where the lake water is used for irrigation. Studies have yet to be conducted, however, on its effect on municipal commitment to preventing invasive species from entering our lakes in the first place. One thing is for certain, however, in the Adirondack Bracket, it proved toxic to frankenpines. Strong stuff.
The lower left regionals witnessed an upset in the contest between birders and—the latest salvation of struggling hamlet economies and declining school populations—broadband. The unexpected outcome of this mismatch between fast and powerful telecommunications and what by any measure must be considered a rag-tag (though incredibly patient) bunch, turned on a simple miscommunication. The birders turned out in vast numbers, flocking to the Bloomingdale Bog, expecting to catch a rare glimpse of the broadbanded boobyhatch. Their tweets alone crashed the fledgling broadband network.
Birdiers go on to face the very ostrich-like John Brown. The martyr of Harper’s Ferry, perhaps boosted by a New York Senate reprieve on the possible closure of his Historic State Park, took 2009 Final Four contender Northville-Placid Trail in stride on his way home to the Plains of Abraham.
The second match-up in this region features the enduring pate-fluff of the Adirondack high peaks, Krumholtz and Cairns (not to be confused with the legal firm, Crumhorn and Korn) who were just too much for some of this area’s art centers to surmount.
They will face the legendary Yellow-Yellow, vanquisher of bear-proof canisters, and most recently of Moriah Shock and Lyon Mountain correctional facilities. In fairness to Moriah Shock and Lyon Mountain, they were both put on New York State Senate’s endangered species list before being devoured.