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Comments on Jail: do we need a $200 million jail?

Sun Mar 6th, 2016

Does the County need a new jail?  That’s a debatable question, and one that is best left for discussion at some future time when Dutchess County’s economy is healthy, and funds are readily available.  In the present, however, the NYS Commission of Correction (SCoC) is simply requiring that Dutchess County taxpayers relieve overcrowding in the present facility by adding more beds.   This seems a simple requirement that could be dealt with in a way that is cost effective, minimizing the burden on Dutchess County’s overtaxed residents.  Why then the elaborate project the County Executive has put forth? The Administration has made what should have been a simple, lower-cost process needlessly complex and unnecessarily expensive. Sensible past proposals, including building an addition to the existing facility and completing renovations to improve efficiency, have been put forward.  The needs of Dutchess County taxpayers have been ignored.  Instead, the County Executive is pursuing what will be the largest and most expensive public works project ever undertaken in Dutchess County. Starting with a bond for almost $200 million + interest and overruns, the total project will end up costing over $515,000 for each inmate bed.  Wow !!

County government needs to be investing to enable our children to have a certain and stable future.  The County needs to make sure that our mentally ill receive needed supervision to remain independent, and that our elderly can afford to age in place.  Instead of fixing ours roads and bridges or extending waterlines to contaminated areas or extending/repairing a commercial sewer system that will support business growth, the County Executive is proposing a plush new Sheriff's complex.  He proposes tearing down most of existing complex because it’s not nice enough and  building an entirely new one that includes another firing range, another gymnasium, a new swimming pool (!) and buildings designed to house boats, ATVs, and trailers which will cost millions.

If you needed another bedroom for your house, you would not tear the house down and start over.  If your business needed additional storage capacity, you would not tear down your existing facilities and start from scratch.  No.  You would add on what you needed, and do so in a fiscally responsible manner.  In an economy that has been near dead last in career-job creation, why promote an injustice for County taxpayers like the proposed new jail and all of the excesses that it carries with it?

Of course, additions and remodeling aren’t as sexy as the bells and whistles of a state-of-the art facility. SCoC never said a new sheriff’s complex was necessary.  It just required County taxpayers to add beds in order to meet the County’s own needs.  It is irresponsible and short-sighted to overspend taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars on this luxurious and inflated complex when so many County residents are struggling simply to maintain their homes and jobs. 


March 7 - TMI has been advised by the County Executive's office that there is no swimming pool, shooting range or gym in the proposed jail proposal.