A Collaborative Approach to County Jailing in the Hudson Valley
Summary and RecommendationsUnder the leadership of Orange County, with the collaboration of Ulster and Sullivan Counties, and withfinancial support of the Local Government Efficiency Program of the New York State Department of State,this research was undertaken to determine the degree to which counties in the Hudson Valley, by working together, might reduce the costs their jails. We consider here not only the potential through collaboration to avoid newly incurred capital costs for jails inHudson Valley, but also possibilities for controlling or diminish operating costs by this means, whilecontinuing to fully assure public safety and the professional operation of jail facilities. To assure that we could achieve a full regional perspective, we sought to include the five Hudson Valley counties in the region that were not sponsoring this study: Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess, Green andColumbia. Representatives of the three sponsoring counties and each of these were invited to serve on anadvisory panel of regional jail administrators; All but Greene chose to participate.Pattern for Progress was engaged as a project partner to focus in particular on how the jail situation inSullivan County had reached the critical point where, months later, a portion of the facility had to be closedby the state Commission on Correction. The resulting report is presented in five parts:-
Summary and recommendations-
A brief description of the state and local policy context for jail decision-making -
A comparative analysis of thirteen discrete areas of jail operation (See
), identifying themost promising areas for potential savings through collaboration-
A summary description of the jail and jail operation in each of the seven counties under study -
A case study of how the situation of the jail in Sullivan County reached its current critical state
The Policy Context
State law requires that each county in New York “maintain a county Jail.”
(County Law. Section 217). Thelaw further requires that within each county “the sheriff … shall have custody of the county jail” and that he“receive and safely keep in the county jail of his county each person lawfully committed to his custody.” All corrections institutions in New York State are overseen by a constitutionally created Commission onCorrection (SCOC) charged with “visit[ing] and inspect[ing] or cause[ing] to be visited and inspected by members of its staff, all institutions used for the detention of sane adults charged with or convicted of crime.”Commission oversight is a critical factor in jail operations. Focus in this report, however, is largely on actionsthat may be taken locally, and not on altering regulations or practices at the state level. The New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) maintains 60 state facilities, 15 of these inthe Hudson Valley
. This invites consideration of additional state/county collaboration in jailing in theregion. The state Budget Division reported that organizational changes proposed this year for a range of stateagencies concerned with criminal justice are being made to enhance “shared operations, program synergies,
In Westchester County and New York City, Commissioners are responsible for county jails.
Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster Counties.