Should the St. Lawrence County Jail Expand?
It's been two years since the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility opened its cells to inmates. Since that time the jail's census has been steadily on the rise, inching closer to maximum capacity.
"It's an obvious increase. It's within the parameters and the trends that we originally state would happen a few years ago," said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells.
The jail has 164 individual cells, but is allowed to hold a maximum capacity of 186 inmates. The inmate population going into this weekend stands at 162.
While the county has not had to board any inmates out at other facilities, it has been able to take in inmates from other neighboring counties, generating some extra revenue.
"What it does tend to bring when these numbers go up, is just actually, more routine daily duties that staff have to respond to such as inmate grievances and inmates requests for other certain things," says Deputy Jail Administrator Dan Dominie.
The jail will also hit another milestone, when it starts using a new video conferencing system for everything from inmate probation issues to inmate attorney consultations.
County officials say the state is forcing counties to foot the bill for sentenced inmates being held in county jails as they wait for space to open up in state prisons.
Legislation is pending in the Senate to require the state to accept state-ready inmates within ten days, or pay the counties a fee for housing them.
Sunday, March 9, 2014, Watertown, NY