POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Dutchess County legislators voted 19-6 on March 22 to move forward with a $192 million bond to fund a jail and sheriff’s office construction project, one of the largest capital projects in recent history for the county. They also voted 19-6 to ensure the project has no negative environmental impacts.
The proposal for a new, 569-jail and sheriff’s office comes as a solution after decades of debate about what to do with county jail overcrowding. The county has been under state order to permanently address the issue since the North Hamilton Street jail can only house 250 inmates, resulting in about 200 inmates needing to be housed out of the county, costing about $8 million annually for the Dutchess taxpayers, reported the Poughkeepsie Journal.
The county already installed pods at the jail last May as a temporary solution to the overcrowding problem. Each pod can hold up to 200 inmates in addition to the jail’s 250-inmate capacity. As of January, the jail reported that the pods had saved the county about $1 million in costs that would have been used for housing inmates out of the county.
County officials said the new jail will be efficiently designed so that the inmate-to-officer ratio will be reduced from one-to-one to three-to-one, which would help save the county $5.3 million in operational savings, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. If needed, the proposal also allows for the option to remove the third floor, which includes 72 beds. The additional space might be unnecessary if the county reduces its average daily inmate population by creating alternatives to incarceration through programming and services for the mentally ill and substance abusers.
With the passing of both resolutions, the next step would be to pick a proposal for final design, construction documentation and construction administration of the jail and sheriff’s office. The renovation and expansion of the Taylor manufacturing building for the sheriff’s office would be addressed first, followed by new jail construction, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.
The county contracted New York-based RicciGreene Associates in 2014 to develop the proposed expansion master plan.