Dutchess officials unveil replacement for ancient county jail

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County has been under state pressure for more than a decade
to replace the overcrowded jail

POUGHKEEPSIE – Faced with state-imposed deadline of April 1 to come up with a plan for a new Dutchess County Jail, county officials took the wraps off the proposed replacement Thursday evening.
Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson told lawmakers that he hopes the $40 million spent to house inmates in other county jails “will come to an end.”
The Justice and Transition Center would be built in the same place as the existing county jail on Hamilton Street in the City of Poughkeepsie.  It would cost approximately $192 million, but that price includes a long-discussed Youth Center. This financial hurdle to the county would have to be paid using through a 30-year bond would cost almost $300 million, leaving much to be desired of the plan by some county legislators.
County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Deputy County Executive William O’Neil assured the legislature that based on 20 years of studies, it is the only feasible course of action considering the overpopulation, over-staffing, inhumane conditions and lack of tolerance from the state’s end, on the jail.
Molinaro said that the state has taken the jail over in the past and that he sees no “wiggle room” within a discussion of the plan. He asked the legislature to honestly and earnestly make their decision, as it will be one that no one will probably be completely satisfied with but will be the lesser burden on the county as a whole.
“I’ll be very candid with you,” Molinaro said.  “I didn’t run for office to build a jail; I never have. I didn’t run for office to have people arrested and I didn’t run for office to raise taxes and I would suggest none of you have either but, I did run for office knowing that we are responsible for the public safety, that we are responsible to protect the interest of our employees, that we have a responsibility to protect taxpayers and ultimately, to protect the county’s fiscal condition.”  
“We have run out of time and we’ve run out of money; that is the truth,” Molinaro said. “We have twice as many inmates as there is capacity and we have an unsafe, inhumane facility. If nothing else, you cannot possibly walk through the current county jail without feeling for the corrections officers, who we hire to sacrifice on our behalf. You cannot walk through that facility and not be concerned for their safety and their sanity. You can’t, also, walk through that facility and feel, as if it is humane for the inmates; you can’t and I would suggest that there isn’t a person in this room who thinks that the current facility is adequate for the people who reside within it.”
State Commission on Corrections’ Field Supervisor Terry Moran told lawmakers the commission “has shown great patience with this entire process; however, we’re at the point where April 1 is the deadline at this point and I don’t believe you can go anywhere, improve operations, without increasing the capacity of this facility.”
No formal decision was made by county lawmakers Thursday night, who will now take a close look at the plans.