Clarification on recent Essex County jail articles

To clarify a recent article and “disbelief” expressed both at the County meeting and in comments on-line: New York State closed our old jail as outdated, dangerous and inadequate. We were paying between $500,000 and $750,000 per year to house overflow inmates out of county in addition to transportation to and from courts.

As such, the county was forced to build a new facility or face between $1 and $2 million per year in boarding costs and transportation.

Upon the recommendation of experts who studied incarceration trends, the county elected to build a 120 bed facility that would handle Essex County needs for the next 30 years. With taxpayers in mind, we planned to fill beds not needed for Essex County’s immediate needs with boarders from other jurisdictions to generate revenue. Between the fall of 2008 and the end of April 2012, we have brought $4.665 million dollars into Essex County coffers from these boarders.

Yes, the building was one of the largest expenditures in Essex County history. But it also includes the county 9-1-1 center and a wing for the New York State Police who pay a significant amount of rent for their space.

My point at the recent meeting was that the Correctional Facility exists for Essex County inmates and is staffed in accordance with New York State standards. In the absence of boarders, we would still have the bond and staff for Essex County inmates.

Inmate housing generates cost. That cost is in food, clothing, hygiene supplies and such. EXCLUDING the base cost of the jail which Essex County had to build and staff anyway, I took any costs related to inmate services and developed a cost per day per inmate.

We had over 29,000 inmate days in 2011, given the entire cost of food and related inmate costs, this translates to a cost of $7.92 per day per inmate for our entire inmate population. In other words, each inmate through the door, costs you, the taxpayer an additional $7.92 per day to feed, clothe, provide for personal hygiene and building cleaning.

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