Jail meets checkpoint as work winds down

The interior of the new Greene County Jail under construction. Contributed photo

COXSACKIE — With 38 male inmates in custody, the new Greene County Jail could be at or near capacity when the facility opens in July.

The 64-bed facility is funded by a $39 million bond from Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. at 2.49% interest and an $8.1 million contribution from the county.

The jail will contain 12 cells for female inmates and 48 for men. Some of the cells are reserved for inmates with distinct classifications and are not available to the general population.

Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, estimated there are about 34 or 36 general population cells for male inmates.

“If you take the 48 male beds and take out the classification cells, what we have furnished is pretty much full,” he said.

When the state Commission of Correction approved the 80-bed jail in November 2018, the commission strongly recommended the size of the facility be increased.

But county lawmakers reduced the number of beds in 2019 from 80 to 64 in anticipation of a lower inmate population as a result of bail reform. The jail contains 80 cells, but only 64 are furnished with bunks, sinks, toilets and desks.

“We saved $32,000 by taking those furnishings out based off of what we were told from bail reform that our populations were going to drop,” Linger said. “I’m not sure that we’ve seen that.”

The state Commission of Correction requires 10% of the cells to remain open.

In the event the county needs more space, the special classification cells could be used, Linger said.

“On a temporary basis we can apply to use them for the general population, but they’re not supposed to be used for permanent general population,” he said.

The county also has the option to furnish the upper floor of one of the mail pods.

“I think first we would look to be able to use the classification cells,” Linger said. “We’d do that first, and then second we would be able to furnish those upper cells in the one that is not furnished.”

Some of the cells are designed for double bunking if that becomes necessary, Linger said.

“With Commission of Correction approval, we can double bunk up to 20% of the cells,” he said. “They won’t consider that before we’ve been in operation for at least a year.”

Until the new facility opens, the county’s inmates are being boarded at Albany, Ulster and Columbia county jails for $70-75 per day per inmate.

With state prisons not accepting inmates from county jails due to the pandemic, the number of inmates is greater, Linger said.

“We have six or seven that we’re still holding that have been convicted and are ready to go to prison,” Linger said. “Unfortunately, we can’t bill the state for that.”

The jail reached its substantial completion date, meaning the majority of construction has been completed, on Jan. 24.

“During the final weeks, I was getting nervous that the substantial completion status would not be met,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.

Contractors brought in additional workers and worked weekends and overtime to get the job done, Groden said.

“Two weeks before meeting the substantial completion status, the project was really under construction seven days a week, sometimes two shifts and upwards of 160 workers at a time,” Groden said.

The project has been running smoothly, Groden said.

“We are now approaching 600 days of construction,” he said. “There has not been an accident or COVID issues. As far as I can tell, no one has even stepped on a nail.”

Furniture is scheduled to be installed in April before the state Commission of Correction visits the site to make a final inspection, Groden said.

“[The Commission of Correction] has been down numerous times throughout [construction],” Groden said. “There are not any known issues right now other than finishing up the details.”

County lawmakers approved a series of change orders Wednesday, none of which increased the overall budget of the project.

“To date, change orders represent 1.5% of the value of construction,” Groden said. “I must admit, that’s a really, really good number. The industry standard is 3 to 5%. We’re running a surplus in the project and I absolutely believe there will be a surplus upon completion of the project.”

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(4) comments

scottmyers

The 80 bed Greene County Jail is unjustifiable. The surrounding county jails are 85% empty. Ulster County just laid off 50 Corrections Officers. While people distracted themselves trying to pass new laws to share jails, my research showed it's already completely legal. Albany County is using it's excess jail cells to house their homeless. Greene County thinks they need another jail for homeless, jailing people who aren't accused of any crime. There are no licensed social workers in the Greene County Department of Social Services.

This week I'll file a lawsuit (injunctive) to examine if we're violating the constitutional rights of our neighbors and friends. Depriving people of freedom is extremely serious. This county attacked me for being a parent after 9/11, jailed and imprisoned me for a cumulative 6 1/4 years, destroyed my parenting.

Pathetic. The $39 million loan at 2.49% is another $16 million. NONE of these funds stay in or benefit Greene County. The construction crews are not from Greene County. The interest goes to a private lender outside of Greene County.

I provoked the 20 weekly Alternatives To Incarceration Committee meetings. It was competently managed by Lori Torgeresen, then a legislator from Windham. Dr. Torgerson has a Ph.D. and 20 years of experience in criminal justice (a term I consider an oxymoron).

While the number of cells is stated as 64, the facility is built for 80. The garage mahal, a heated and airconditioned garage, costs $1.2 million.

The new $90 million debt load comes on top of the yearly $114 million budget. I repeat for emphasis that all of this is non-productive spending.

The greatest irresponsibility involves moving money from "reserves." Treasurer Peter Markous tells me he needs $40 to $120 million in "reserves" to cover employee health care and retirement. He allowed $8 million from reserves to lower the principle for this horror jail. In December the county took an additional $2.9 million from reserves because they couldn't make payroll. It's likely they did the same in January.

Central Hudson's Out of Alignment shows a declining percapita and population. There's no model for growth here. That assessment is BEFORE the drastic effects of COVID-19. It's very important to realize that our economy comes from tourism, but tourism and COVID-19 are mutually exclusive.

It's my personal experience the county prays on people in the social safety net so they can have customers to (falsly) justify jails and deputies.

There's no new money business here or planned. The 37% public sector employment, and the new debt for a jail we never justified, and now COVID-19 accrues to a disaster.

I did not create this disaster, Administrator Groden, Treasurer Peter Markou, County Attorney Ed LKaplan, Greene County Legislators and it's chair Peter Linger did.

I'm simply reporting. What comes next is likely a default realignment forced by the lack of money.

64 Human cages at $90 million $1406,250 per human cage. There's no money for program to aid the detainee. Again, the surrounding county jails are 85% empty.

Rory VanDeusen

Hey Scott---Did you read the article about the JAIL being close to capacity when it's complete? Ha! So much for your tirades!

Chris B

I don’t know who you are, or maybe I do, but I definitely appreciate that you see through the nonsense he spews day in and day out. He talks about being verbally attacked and has accused me of doing so. Right after he personally attacks whoever his flavor of the day is. His hypocrisy knows no bounds. I get it, he hates jails, I would too if I spent seven years in them (or any time whatsoever in my case) or whatever he was bragging about recently. But the fact is, he lost the jail fight, and nobody takes him serious. But, that doesn’t stop his unhealthy obsession with bashing anyone he doesn’t agree with.

Rory VanDeusen

I had to re-do my subscription and changed my name. My FB is Rory Van Deusen.

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