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Greene County Jail shut down; closure called temporary

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    Lance Wheeler/for Columbia-Greene Media The existing Greene County Jail on Bridge Street in Catskill.
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    Lance Wheeler for Columbia-Greene MediaThe existing Greene County Jail on Bridge Street in Catskill.
April 20, 2018 05:04 pm Updated: April 20, 2018 08:47 pm

By Amanda Purcell

Columbia-Greene Media

CATSKILL — The remaining housing units of the Greene County Jail will be temporarily closed because of structural concerns, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s office.

Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley and three Greene County legislators decided to close the remaining housing units — in effect shutting down the jail — after consulting with a structural engineering firm, according to a statement from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office did not name the three legislators. Repeated calls and attempts to contact Greene County lawmakers for comment went unanswered. The Greene County Administrator’s office directed all press inquiries to the sheriff’s office.

The decision was made as a precaution to keep staff and inmates safe, according to the statement. Final structural engineering evaluations are expected to be completed next week with other recommendations to follow.

“Basically, the infrastructure of this building is falling down around us,” Seeley said late Friday afternoon.

All inmates will be transferred to facilities in nearby counties – 30 to Columbia and 20 to Ulster, according to the sheriff’s office.

The jail’s housing units are expected to be empty within a few hours, Seeley said at 5 p.m. Friday.

“It’s an unfortunate thing I had to do [moving inmates],” Seeley said. “It is the last thing I wanted to do. But, when it comes to the safety and well-being of employees and inmates, it is a decision that had to be made.”

Certain rooms of the jail building will remain open for booking purposes, Seeley said.

The sheriff’s road patrol will also continue operations out of the building, Seeley said. Road patrol responds to 911 calls, vehicular accidents and complaints, according to Greene County’s website.

Thirty-six corrections officers are employed at the jail, Seeley said.

“They still have to come to work and still have to do inmate transports, such as to go to doctor’s appointments,” Seeley said. “I will not lay off any COs. I will find something for them to do.”

The state Commission of Correction ranked the Greene County Jail in Catskill as one of the worst correctional facilities in the state in a report released Feb. 14.

“We have got major issues with the heating and the water systems,” Seeley said.

“There are major issues with the infrastructure in this facility. I will not take the risk of something happening to one of the employees or risk one of the inmates getting hurt.”

County legislators have discussed three options to address the condition of the jail: building a new jail behind the Greene Correctional Facility off Route 9W in Coxsackie, repairing the current facility in Catskill or sharing a jail with Columbia County.

Seeley said he will review the structural engineering report next week and decide where to house inmates on a long-term basis.

“I would like to see this place made into a parking lot and for a new correctional facility to be built in Coxsackie, as opposed to the shared services jail, which I do not think is good for the people and the taxpayers of this county,” Seeley said. “I hope the legislators will get together to get things moving. This should have been done 25 years ago.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.

Yes, completely closed. I began this project just trying to get some maintenance on the place. The jail was built at the same time as the library and courthouse, with the same good methods. The library and courthouse were restored quite well. The county - Spitz - ran this one down intentionally with the expectation they'd get a new clubhouse in Coxsackie. That strategy may fail since the legislature requires a supermajority, which they don't have. We haven't growth here, we're at the top of the 2% tax cap, and there's no coherent plan to create non-seasonal, non-public job or industry development.

COC's Chair Beilein slams the management, who causes such problems as failed grievance, failed access to counsel and the court, beatings, sexual moleststions, needless suicides, 23 hour lockdowns, substandard mental health. Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz needs to be fired, which may have occurred since he no longer has a jail to "supervise". He created this mess with Greg Seeley. Pathetic.

The opportunity to secure a regional jail solution is enhanced. I've asked Governor Cuomo and State Senator Almadore to take back the land in Coxsackie. I've provoked State Senator Beilein to fast track his bill to formalize the co-owner of Columbia County's jail. Doing so will smooth the way for COs to continue their employment. Mike Bulich has meet with representatives from Hudson to sort out who will stay and who will be laid off or get a retirement package. Greg Seeley sees jobs for school guards as one option. I prefer not to add more guns to a school. Greg Seeley loves his dogs and guns. He is a horrible person and should be replaced.

The abuses at that jail are quite similar to Abu Ghraib. It's the management. So, yes, a huge win. Dramatic. Greene County lacks the temperament to operate a humane holding jail. It is only that, a holding facility. Detainees are held until some solution, such as counseling, social services, or in rare circumstances trial occur. They have the same basic rights as non-convicted people until a trial convicts. We fail almost all of them.

County Adminstrator Shawn Groden should be replaced for insisting on a palace in Coxsaxkie knowing he has entered failed the productive business development projects that prevent conpunty degradation. He is likely taking kickbacks. He spent $2 million on defective plans that incorporate the sheriff's office. It is completely illegal to move the sheriff's office without a public referrendum, which would fail.

So, yes, huge win!!!!

Scott Myers
(518) 291-8169
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Notice the cost of a new jail is $52 million for 96 human cages = $82,700,078 over 30 years at 3.15%. Or, $861,459 PER CAGE! This is simply unacceptable knowing a perfectly good method is to share the county jail in Hudson, which is already legal.

Greg Seeley is delusional. There is only one black deputy, and onlyone female deputy. Tracy Quinn is apparently Greg Seeley's illigitimate daughter, although the term illigitimate is out of date she's likely his daughter (born from an affair while Greg was married).

The more important story is in Beilein's report - the behavior of Greg Seeley and Michael Spitz. Beatings, sexual moleststions, 23 hour lockdowns, denial of access to the court, solitary confinement without grievance review...

I stopped the bond a year ago February. I've asked the Congress to fast-tracked s5538. I've asked Governor Cuomo and Almadore to take back the land in Coxsackie. I will prevent the loan by suing that the plans incorporate the Sheriff's office, which can't be moved out of Catskill without a public referrendum. I will prevent the loan by suing that the plans incorporate the Sheriff's office, which can't be moved out of Catskill without a public referrendum.
William Lawrence
Safety Committee Chair and Legislator
Greene County Legislature
411 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414


May 2, 2018

$52 million for 96 human cages is $82,700,078 over 30 years at 3.15%.
Or, $861,459 PER CAGE!

Dear Mr. Lawrence:

As I’ve written many times, the county cannot build a new jail. There is no money. Mr. Groden’s 2018 budget shows no growth and no plan or growth.

The numbers put out to the public are false. The cost is ENORMOUS! The now $52 million is in fact $83 million with interest of 3.15% over 30 years. This does not include any salaries or program whatsoever. All of these moneys completely leave the county – the work crews will not be from Greene County.

The April 20th closing of our jail proves the shared jail is already a reality. We’re using that solution now.

The problems with our jail are largely managerial. COC’s recent report is mostly about bad management. 40 or so COs are paid to paid not to work. How long can that go on. “Mr. Spitz must go!”

Should you force a successful vote for a bond I will sue. If a law suit is in play no loan will occur. The basis of a law suit is the lack of transparency (my emails and FOIA requests are blocked…). I The suit will notice that the county has no reasonable plan to pay for the loan without ruining our finances.

Further, as you know, by law the Sheriff’s Office cannot be moved out of the county seat. Current design thoroughly incorporates the Sheriff’s office in Coxsackie.

The failure to explore the shared jail, failure to fund half of a $60,000 study ($5,000 after reimbursement), will sink the loan application. The failure similarly violates the desire of the Greene County Chamber’s 100 business members, who demand a complete evaluation of all options. Bonacic’s s5538 bill in the State Senate makes more formal what is already legal, that a county can share a jail, and is fast tracked now. This ends that excuse.

Today’s 5 PM engineering discussion with Kaaterskill Associates will conclude that the 80 Bridge Street facility cannot be repaired or maintained. The Sheriff’s Office must be rehabilitated, but it is redundant to spend money repairing the jail.

The reality, sir, is we have only one choice, repair the Sheriff’s Office, tear down the jail behind it (for parking), and share the jail in Hudson.

Therefore, begin moving COs around, forget about a loan for anything in Coxsackie, and secure the shared jail solution.

Finally, Mr. Spitz must be fired as superintendent.

Anything less guarantees several years of expensive litigation.


Scott Myers
Starlight Motel
9281 US Route 9W #3
Catskill, NY 12015
(518) 291-8169

Mr. Shaun Groden
County Administrator Greene County
411 Main Street
Catskill NY, 12414
(518) 719-3270

Members of the Greene County Legislature
Members of the Press and Public