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Orleans interested in shared jail someday with Genesee

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 12:20 pm
File Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Jail, built in 1970, may not be a long-term answer for housing inmates.

File Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Jail, built in 1970, may not be a long-term answer for housing inmates.

ALBION – Orleans County officials want to talk about a shared jail with Genesee County.

The project would be several years away, but David Callard, Orleans County Legislature chairman, wants to get started with looking at a regional jail.

Both counties may need upgraded jail facilities in the future. The state Commission on Corrections was pressing Orleans for a new jail, but has allowed the county to keep using the existing jail after Orleans spent about $1 million in 2013 for a new roof, boiler system, and a series of energy efficiency improvements, including new caulking around about 100 windows and also on the seams of the building.

The state however isn’t allowing the county to exceed the 82-inmate capacity. The county for many years was given a waiver to accommodate a bigger jail population on the weekends.

With no waiver, the county is boarding out some inmates, and also isn’t accepting inmates from other counties if the capacity tops 82 inmates.

That issue has cost the county about $350,000 in lost revenue this year, Callard said Monday during a county budget hearing.

Genesee is interested in an expanded and updated jail. Callard said the two counties should look at a joint project.

Orleans wants to work with Genesee on a study to see how a shared jail would be run and where it could be best located. The two counties would need State Legislature approval for a shared facility. The state law currently requires each county to have its own jail.

Callard said the two counties have already been trailblazers for shared services. They run a health department with a shared director and some shared staff, as well as a joint board of directors for the Board of Public Health. Orleans and Genesee are the only counties in New York, and one of just 16 in the country, with a shared health department, Callard said.

That example and experience of the two counties working together may help Orleans and Genesee overcome barriers to a shared jail.

Callard said Orleans is reaching out to Genesee officials to first pursue a study of the new jail.

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