WGXC-90.7 FM

Critics say a new Greene Jail building is not a done deal

Aug 08, 2018 12:31 pm
The Mid-Hudson News Network reports that building a new Greene County Jail instead of sharing a facility with Columbia County is not a done deal, according to critics of the proposal. Robert Janiszewski, chairman of the steering committee of the Greene County Good Government Coalition, said there are better ways of addressing the current situation of housing prisoners in other counties since the county jail has been closed down over safety concerns. “We need to provide for better alternatives to incarceration than simply locking people up pending trial,” Janiszewski said. “We need to increase the speed of trial to people don’t have to wait for months or a year and then you are found guilty, if they do get found guilty, and get sentenced to time less than what they already served waiting for trial – that makes no sense. There are ways to approach this, ways to minimize numbers, minimize taxpayers’ burden, be more humane and make more sense; none of that is being done in Greene County.” Building a new jail would be the most expensive construction project in Greene County history. Last week Public Safety Committee Chairman Bill Lawrence, a Republican from Cairo, released some frequently asked questions about the jail, and said the votes were there to pass the measure. County Legislator Lori Torgersen, chairwoman of the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee, says sharing the facility with Columbia County makes sense. “We have an opportunity to really just capitalize on our relationship with Columbia County and to do work that is absolutely evidenced based and consistent with criminal justice reform nationally, internationally and certainly in the state. I would personally love for Greene County to be a leader on these issues,” the Windham-based Torgersen said. The issue seems to break down to how many jobs are saved by building a $47-million-plus-interest jail in Greene County instead of sharing costs with Columbia County, and how much exactly taxes will go up for Greene County residents if the construction project is approved. So far, legislators have not had the votes to either move the jail forward or to even research the possibilities of a shared facility. Currently, the Greene County Jail is closed as the building, in Catskill, is unsafe, and officials have made a shared facility agreement with the Columbia and Ulster County jails. Read the full story at the Mid-Hudson News Network.