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politics

Dutchess County Legislature OKs $192M New Jail Project

The current Dutchess County Jail.
The current Dutchess County Jail. Photo Credit: Google Maps

DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Lawmakers voted 19 to 6 to approve the construction of a jail and sheriff's office, a project valued at $192 million Tuesday, according to the report.

Poughkeepsie lawmakers conducted debate on the topic, with the vote happening about 1 a.m.

The project was proposed by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro due to the present jail being overly crowded.

The Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center (DCJTC) will be built at the site of the current Dutchess County Jail facility on North Hamilton Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. The new DCJTC will be a total of 297,000 square feet with up to 569 beds.

It is expected to save taxpayers more than $5 million annually beginning in the first year of operation – 2021, officials said.

“With the support from the Legislature, we finally address a problem that has plagued our criminal justice system for over 20 years," Molinaro said. "The Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center allows us to end the inhumane and costly practice of housing out inmates, provide enhanced alternatives to incarceration, increase public safety, and deliver savings to taxpayers as a result of a more efficient and safer facility.

"Over the last several years, we've thoroughly analyzed our criminal justice system, options and met with hundreds of residents. After dozens of town hall forums we've gathered feedback and answered questions about this project. Together, with your suggestions, I’m confident we will create the most comprehensive system of justice of any county in America, making us a model for the rest of the nation: saving tax dollars and lives."

The project proposal includes several options to scale down the size of the facility prior to construction if the county continues to have success in bringing down the average daily inmate population. Most of the current facility will be demolished, with the exception of the section built in 1995, which will be renovated and incorporated within the new building design. The current Sheriff’s Office building will also be demolished to make room for the DCJTC, and a 56,000-square-foot Law Enforcement Center, with enhanced design efficiency and greater public access will be built at the site of Taylor Manufacturing building on Parker Avenue purchased by the County in 2014.

“The time has come to address the issues in the criminal justice system. I want to thank those who took the time to share their thoughts and it is clear there are many concerns, which are shared by legislators, regarding those who are suffering with mental health or substance abuse issues," Dutchess County Legislator Barbara Jeter-Jackson said. "There are clearly problems within our community and must be addressed. I believe the Justice & Transition Center will enable this county to focus on those issues and provide individuals the help they need to address those problems and get out of the criminal justice system.”

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