Camp Monterey supporters rally, tell of its ability to turn lives around
BIG FLATS — John Hayward was a punk kid more than 20 years ago, constantly in trouble with the police. Steve Ray had a problem with all authority, broke into a home and stole drugs when he was 17, and followed that exploit the next year when he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Kate Mizzoni couldn’t sleep after her out-of-control son was sent to Elmira Correctional Facility.
Saturday, all three — and many others — thanked former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who decided 26 years ago to open the first “shock incarceration” camp in Schuyler County for young adults convicted of non-violent felonies. Cuomo felt youthful convicts needed the discipline and order of a boot camp, and not more time around hardcore inmates.
But no one at the Save Camp Monterey rally held at the National Soaring Museum on Harris Hill can figure out why Cuomo’s son, the current Gov. Andrew Cuomo, plans on closing the facility and three medium-security prisons in upstate New York.
The elder Cuomo set up a highly successful model for rehabilitating young adults, according to Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli.
Shock facilities are designed to provide a six-month “boot camp” type of atmosphere for non-violent offenders generally aged 16-24. Camp regimen includes drill instructors, physical training, counseling, substance abuse rehabilitation and education. The program also sends out work crews, saving municipalities and nonprofit groups hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to speakers at the rally.
Some 93 percent of those graduating from Monterey do not return to prison, according to the facility’s records.Written by