Feedback: Using State Prisons To Ease Jail Overcrowding?

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The Jefferson County Jail is bursting at the seams.

Meanwhile, many state prisons have extra space.

The solution seems obvious - if only the state would go along.

"They have special units within their facilities. They can create a special unit for county inmates as well," said county Legislator Scott Gray, who chairs the finance committee.

County leaders have approached the state corrections commissioner about using Cape Vincent Correctional Facility or Watertown Correctional to hold extra county inmates.

"There seems to be a willingness to hear us out on the state end. In the past they have just shut the door tight on us," said Gray.

If it happened, it would set precedent across the state and might be a win-win for the county and the state.

"By using the Cape Vincent facility, we would not only be helping Jefferson County taxpayers, but we'd also help keep that facility viable," said Michael Docteur, county Legislature vice chair. 

Among the problems with the proposal is that the state spends more per inmate than the county does.

What the state would charge the county might not work.

"But that's an area we are working on," said Docteur.

County leaders say it may take political pressure to make the idea work.

They've been talking with state Senator Patty Ritchie and hope the local Assembly members will help as well.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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