Orleans County Jail population less than 50% from year ago

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 January 2021 at 12:05 pm

County in talks with ICE, U.S. Marshals to hold federal detainees, defendants

Photos by Tom Rivers: This photo from 2013 shows two cells inside the Orleans County Jail, where the inmate population has dropped from an average of 49 inmates a day in December 2019 to 22 last month, a decline of 55 percent.

ALBION — The jail population significantly dropped in 2020 locally and statewide. The inmate population in the Orleans County Jail was down to 22 inmates in December, a drop of 55 percent from December 2019 when the average daily inmate count was 49.

The jail on Platt Street has a capacity for 82 inmates. The jail population is operating at only about a quarter of the available beds.

Sheriff Chris Bourke said the county is negotiating with two federal agencies to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees and U.S. Marshal’s Service defendants.

Bourke advised local elected officials during a Tuesday conference call that the county is negotiating with the two federal agencies. The jail will be inspected by ICE and the Marshals next week, Bourke said. The county DPW is working to clean and paint the jail in time for the inspection, Bourke said.

The contracts if approved would bring much-needed revenue to the county, the sheriff said.

Bourke said changes in criminal justice laws, including bail reform, is a big factor in the inmate population drop. He also said Covid-19 restrictions which have local courts operating at reduced levels, with cases be adjourned and sentences put off.

According to a report from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Orleans County average daily inmate population was much higher from 2010 to 2019: 73 in 2010, 76 in 2011, 75 in 2012, 62 in 2013, 61 in 2014, 65 in 2015, 63 in 2016, 68 in 2017, 60 in 2018 and 58 in 2019.

Statewide the average daily inmate count in county jails has dropped from 25,059 in 2016, 24,457 in 2017, 22,821 in 2018, 19,920 in 2019. Statewide, the jail population is down 19.5 percent from December 2019 to last month, dropping from an average daily inmate count of 16,872 to 13,575.

The inmate population in county jails statewide hit a low in 2020 in July with 11,090 inmates in county jails. It has been rising since then to 11,583 in August, 12,266 in September, 12,824 in October, 13,392 in November and 13,575 in December.

The Orleans County Jail is located on Platt Street in Albion.