"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jail Break?

Jefferson County Sheriff's Department issued a report a few weeks ago on the capacity (not overcapacity) for the first four months of 2008.

Last year, an election year for the
County Legislature, the Democrats were howling to spend taxpayer's money on a new jail. Sheriff John Burns said at one point, and it was often repeated by WWNY TV, that the county was spending $5000.00 a day out boarding inmates, a figure that has yet to be substantiated. The out boarding of inmates has its ebb and flows, that is proven by history and little doubt it will continue, the question remains before spending millions of taxpayer’s money; will out boarding sustain itself for any length of time that necessitates construction of a new jail.

The County, under constant request and pressure from the Sheriff, swung into action to hire a consultant and explore expanding a new facility. An expanded facility will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in order to build a facility that is only allowed to be used up to 80% of its capacity. The state requires a secured jail with trained correctional officers to be built with 20% excess capacity for safety reasons, instead of perhaps possibly increasing staff and use all the jail for its intended purpose.

This year thus far according to the report, the county has out boarded 32 inmates for the year at a total cost of $4110.00 for the first 121 days of 2008. But, the other part of the report shows the county actually in boarded 469 inmates so far this year and generated $33,210 in revenue for the year at this point for a net gain to the county $29,100. This could change without a moments notice, but data produced by the county so far has yet to show any sustained period of out boarding.

In a report from the Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, it offered a proposal that would allow flexibility for counties to share jail facilities and manage jail populations. The State imposes separation requirements for managing jail population, adults versus youth, male and female and by their nature they limit capacity of facilities. This proposal would be a welcomed improvement to maximizing use of these facilities.

A similar coordination of facilities was suggested last fall by Jefferson County Legislator Mike Docteur. The idea was discussed with St. Lawrence County officials, but with the lack of support from St. Lawrence County Legislator Sallie Brothers and Jefferson County Sheriff John Burns the idea died on the vine.

If out boarding is required, then Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties should come together with a plan to maximize the use of their facilities and save taxpayer’s money.


RWiley said...

Other than using this post as an opportunity to use the phrase, "the Democrats were howling to spend taxpayer's money on a new jail", what is the point of this article? Help me out here.
If the proposal is a way to save us money and died because of two people, John Burns and Sallie Brothers, why didn't the other politicians go forward with the plan? Michael Docteur is a good man and good legislator. I find it hard to believe that he would back down on a good idea because of only two people. It is not his style.

NNY Bluedog said...

St. Lawrence County is in the process of constructing it's own jail facility to deal with an outdated facility and boarding out its own inmates. Sharing services makes more sense when both areas have similar needs, not when one is already millions of dollars into their own solution.

RWiley said...

Thanks for pointing that out. Political IV missed that.
I am sure there is more behind it than just the opposition of two people.

Anonymous said...


I am not sure what you do not understand with the post. It is regarding the reversal of out boarding the county was experiencing and that there maybe other ways to solve the issue of out boarding.

RWiley said...

I think I understand now. I just wanted to know if Political IV wanted to quit the out boarding and focus on just the in boarding, since some might see that as a problem because they might think that the out boarding is as important as the in boarding.

But, nny bluedog cleared it up when he added that St. Lawrence County had its solution with a new facility.

Live Blogging