Updated 01/19/2012 09:58 PM
Consolidating county jails makes sense
These days, consolidation is a term perhaps most often associated with the word debt. But Christian Farrell tells us in the Hudson Valley it's also being partnered, with prisons.
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GOSHEN, N.Y. -- Orange County has itself a relatively big jail. So big though, a capacity for 753 inmates, that often there's plenty of jail space available. And that's not good for business according to Gerald Benjamin, one of the authors of the study: A Collaborative Approach to County Jailing in the Hudson Valley.
"We have lots of ideas about collaborative efforts that can reduce costs while maintaining security and safety in the community," said Benjamin.
Benjamin releases the findings of the report during a news conference Thursday in Goshen. The state funded report focuses on seven counties, including Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan, and how jails are run. Things like transporting inmates, employee overtime and jail space demands are examined. The study finds there are opportunities for counties to work together to save money.
"We're in a very austere environment financially. We have investments in new facilities in some places. Needs in some places," said Benjamin.
The one county in the report that could arguably gain the most from jail consolidation is Sullivan County, the home of the state's oldest jail, built back in 1908.
Sullivan County's desperate need for a new jail was also a sidebar of the study taken up by Jonathan Drapkin of the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.
"I think you have to look at this from the point of view of the local taxpayer and say what can we afford to do and can we continue to do nothing? Because one thing the case study showed is by doing nothing its driven the cost of the solution up by millions of dollars," said Drapkin.
According to Orange County Executive Ed Diana, the next move is up to the leaders of each county.
"I think now we have to call more meetings, sit down put our heads together. I've always said 50 minds are better than one with ideas, with thinking, with progressiveness," said Diana.
To read the study, visit http://www.newpaltz.edu.