In dramatic fashion, on April 20, 2018, the Greene County Jail closed. Kaaterskill Architects reported that $500,000 is needed make the jail structurally sound. It will therefore never reopen.
The much argued regional/shared jail solution has just occurred – Greene County is sharing the jail in Columbia County, with a few in Ulster County. Their facilities easily accommodated our people since we have very little serious crime here.
It’s responsible to begin reassigning the 40 Correction Officers to Hudson or Coxsackie, as school guards, or some other assignments, or to lay them off.
Building a new jail is impossible since the county does not have the money. Administrator Shawn Groden’s 2018 budget shows NO growth and NO plan for attracting and securing non-public or non-seasonal jobs or industry. The budgets for the past 3 years are at or EXCEED the required 2% property tax cap. ANY jail construction project and even any repairs to the 80 Bridge Street facility are ADDED to and are OVER the 2% property tax cap.
The $52 million bond (read 30-year loan) is $87 million with interest! All of this money simply leaves the county, the construction crews are not from Greene County.
The $87 million loan is just for the human cages. It does NOT include staff salaries, program, defense or transportation costs! If a loan is secured it will ruin our county economics for 30 years. It will destroy our social services and destroy the alternatives to incarceration that are FAR less costly in terms of money and people’s lives.
The only (imaginary) impediment to a shared/regional jail with Hudson is the thought that it is not an easy lift to contract a shared jail. Senator Bonacic created a bill that does just that – bill s5538.
It’s responsible to secure the agreements for a shared/regional jail.
THEREFORE, this is a request that the reader calls your state representatives and ask they pass Senator Bonacic’s shared jail bill. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s5538.
This can and must be done by June 20, which is the end of this year’s legislative session. It needs a sponsor in the state assembly. I’ve included the names and emails of our representatives. Please email or call them today.
Here is the bill:
S5538A (ACTIVE) – SUMMARY
Allows for two or more counties to enter into a contract for the provision of a county jail.
S5538A (ACTIVE) – SPONSOR MEMO
BILL NUMBER: S5538A
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the county law and the correction law, in relation to
allowing two or more counties to enter into a contract for the
provision of a county jail
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL :
To provide that counties may share a jail instead of having separate
jails in each county.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS :
Section 1: Amends section 217 of the County Law to add the exception
created by section 500-q of the Correction Law, to the requirement
that each county continues to maintain its own county jail.
Section 2: Amends the Correction Law by adding a new section 500-q
which provides that counties may share in the construction,
maintenance, bonding and long-term financing associated with a county
Section 3: Effective date.
The Commissioner of the State Commission on Correction refuses to
allow counties to share the construction, maintenance, and financing of
jails. In fact, when approached by Sullivan County officials about the
concept of developing a regional jail with one of the adjoining
counties, replied: “New York has regions; they’re called counties.” -
source: Times Herald Record, February 10, 2010.
The answer of a State agency Commissioner when approached about the
concept of a sincere regional cost sharing concept was to dismiss it
out of hand. That type of attitude shows a disregard for taxpayers.
There is no reason why counties should not be able to share in the
cost of the construction and maintenance and long-term financing of a
jail. Sharing services at the local level makes sense whenever
possible. Taxpayers are stretched to the brink and New York State
government needs to change to meet the needs of the taxpayer, rather
than continuing to insist that taxpayers change to meet the needs of
the State. This common-sense measure will help make that change
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY :
S.5538 of 2017: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Corrections
S.1633 of 2016: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Corrections
S.1633 of 2015: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Corrections
S.1876-A of 2014: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Local Governments
S.1876-A of 2013: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Local Governments
S.2142-A of 2012: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Correction
S.2142 of 2011: Died in Senate Local Government
S.6941 of 2010: Passed Senate, Died in Assembly Correction
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS :
Please write AND call your senator and assembly person and county representatives
You’ll save yourself and Greene County Tax Payers $87 million and improve justice overall.
County administrators and representatives