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Sheriff looks to add eight guards to jail

"If these additional men are able to lower that overtime cost, I think you'll start to recoup most of that $250,000 as well," said Palmer.

Supervisor Tom Scozzafava, R-Moriah, said adding more guards not only made financial sense, but would reduce the burden on existing staff.

"Some of these officers are starting to experience the burnout phase because they get home and they're right back in the jail again," Scozzafava said.

"You don't want officers working in an environment when they're not in the best frame of mind," said supervisor Randy Douglas, D-Jay. "It becomes a safety issue."

"The stress is tremendous," said Hommes in agreement. "It's really taking a toll on people."

On Feb. 6, a fight broke out at the jail involving an unspecified number of inmates. Five corrections officers were sent to the hospital for precautionary measures as a result of the incident. Cutting denied the incident having any effect on the decision to add more staff.

Cutting said the federal contract not only brought more inmates to the jail, but a more varied group of inmates, some of which are prone to self-harm or have other situations that require them to be kept in segregation.

Supervisors Roby Politi, R-North Elba, and Robert Dedrick, R-Ticonderoga, expressed concern about possibly having to lay off some guards if the contract ended or inmate numbers dropped. Hommes said it was extremely unlikely that the US Marshals service would pull out of the agreement.

"I don't predict [the inmates] dwindling," said Hommes.

The committee voted unanimously to add the eight positions, which could be added from an existing list of about 15 candidates, many of whom have already completed a physical test to be considered for hire as corrections officers.

The additional positions will need to be approved at the next full board meeting, scheduled for March 2.

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