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.”