Wednesday, August 8, 2018

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Proposed new Greene County Jail is not a ‘done deal’

CATSKILL – A proposal to build a new $47 million Greene County Jail in Coxsackie is by no means a done deal.

While several county legislators, including Public Safety Committee Chairman Bill Lawrence, support the plan, opponents maintain it is not the way to go.

Robert Janiszewski, chairman of the steering committee of the Greene County Good Government Coalition, said there are better ways of addressing the current situation of housing prisoners in other counties since the county jail has been closed down over safety concerns.

“We need to provide for better alternatives to incarceration than simply locking people up pending trial,” Janiszewski said. “We need to increase the speed of trial to people don’t have to wait for months or a year and then you are found guilty, if they do get found guilty, and get sentenced to time less than what they already served waiting for trial – that makes no sense. There are ways to approach this, ways to minimize numbers, minimize taxpayers’ burden, be more humane and make more sense; none of that is being done in Greene County.”

County Legislator Lori Torgersen, chairwoman of the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee, supports a shared jail facility with Columbia County, saying Greene County is at a transformational moment.

“We have an opportunity to really just capitalize on our relationship with Columbia County and to do work that is absolutely evidenced based and consistent with criminal justice reform nationally, internationally and certainly in the state. I would personally love for Greene County to be a leader on these issues,” she said.

Torgersen said the county faces a real opportunity to make positive change. “My hope is that we see this for the good of the county and the taxpayers and the people who work and reside in the jail.”

Opponents to constructing a large new Greene County Jail maintain reduced jail populations are anticipated in future years because of likely bail reform, approved ‘raise the age’ legislation in Albany and alternatives to incarceration.

The county legislature would need a super-majority of votes to approve bonding for a new jail and opponents point out that right now, that two-thirds majority of lawmakers is not there.


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