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State Consents to Final Three-Month Extension of Tompkins County Jail Variance

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State Consents to Final Three-Month Extension of Tompkins County Jail Variance

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The New York State Commission of Correction (COC) today consented to a three-month extension of Tompkins County Jail’s long-standing 18-bed variance, but indicated that is the final extension the County will receive. The decision came at the Commission’s meeting with County officials in Albany.

County Administrator Joe Mareane informed legislators of the decision at tonight’s meeting of the Legislature’s Expanded Budget Committee.

According to Mr. Mareane, the Commission had initially planned to revoke the variance as of this Sunday, October 1, but following a conversation with Sheriff Ken Lansing and Jail Captain Ray Bunce, who made the case for the variance, the Commission dropped its initial plan, but issued only a 90-day variance. The COC was firm in saying that there will be no more variances beyond December 31.

Mr. Mareane indicates that, according to Sheriff Lansing, the Commission had reviewed the Jail Population Study report prepared by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) and the other materials the County had provided. The CGR report found that Tompkins County does not need to build a new jail or expand the number of beds in the existing jail. CGR cites both population projections and bed-day savings that can result from effective use and expansion of incarceration alternatives.

A future revocation of the variance by the COC would reduce the Jail’s permitted capacity to 82 beds (from 100). Administrator Mareane told legislators that board-out of 18 inmates could cost the County $558,000 a year. He said the County must now consider how best to respond to the COC’s decision, which could have implications for the 2018 budget process.