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Dutchess Co. legislature to vote on jail bond authorization; 200 protesters expected

Jul 09, 2020 2:30 pm
Ryan Santistevan and Geoffrey Wilson are reporting for the Poughkeepsie Journal Dutchess County lawmakers will vote July 8, on whether to cancel more than $132 million in bonds to build a new jail. The bond authorization was originally approved in 2016, but the community conversation around the issue was reignited by the nationwide movement calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. The vote Thursday is expected to bring 200 protesters to the county office building on Market Street in Poughkeepsie, beginning at 4 p.m. Democratic legislators, the Progressive Black and Latino Caucus and End the New Jim Crow Action Network of Poughkeepsie are the lead organizers. The county argues it must replace the jail, citing inefficiencies with the existing structure and the potential for rehabilitative programming in the new space. The project may cost $149.8 million, in addition to interest and fees on the debt, according to the Dutchess County’s Democratic Caucus. The existing jail can house 250 inmates. When the bond authorization was originally adopted, the county was housing 200 more people at out-of-county facilities at a cost of $8 million annually. In mid-2015, the county instituted a temporary fix, installing pods to house people. Recently those pods have been used as a 24/7 homeless shelter. There are approximately 140 people currently detained in the county jail; the proposed facility would be large enough to house 328 people. On July 5, Black Lives Matter Hudson Valley met to demand that the Dutchess County legislature revoke the bonds and discuss better uses for the money. In a press release, the organization described the project as "obsolete" and "futile." Read the full story in the Poughkeepsie Journal.