Broome County jail expansion could bring new revenue

By Brandi Bailey

July 16, 2013 Updated Jul 16, 2013 at 8:48 PM EST

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County Sheriff David Harder has been talking about expanding the jail for more than 10 years, but it has thus far lacked support.

Now that the jail is running at capacity, it's time to revisit the idea and discuss how the problem can be solved, Harder said.

Broome County has spent $600,000 this year alone boarding inmates at facilities in Chemung and Delaware counties.

"Our population has grown," Harder said. "When I came into office 15 years ago, the population was around 400. Today it's 554 people."

That number is expected to continue its growth. Studies done within the county show the jail's population could reach 700 in the next 10 years.

Broome County is experiencing another issue officials say cannot be pushed aside.

"The commissioner of corrections doesn't like our medical unit. They're claiming it is co-mingling," Harder said.

While males and females are in separate cells, they're in the same medical unit receiving care.

That's illegal, according to the New York State Commissioner of Corrections. And Harder says fixing the problem could cost up to $3 million.

"We need to explore every avenue possible in order to see if there's potential of expanding or renovating the existing jail," said Deputy Broome County Executive, Bijoy Datta.

For the county, it's as much about the cost as it is about the effects on residents.

"Our role is to take a look at all the numbers of the different options, whether it's renovations, whether it's new additions, whether it's continuing to board inmates out to other counties," Datta said.

The county executive will need to meet with the legislature and the sheriff's office to determine what's best for the county and it's taxpayers.

The county hopes to have a decision by the end of this year so that funding can be made available to start any construction project next year.

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