Cortland County lawmakers have a approved spending $150 thousand dollars to look at sites for a new County Jail.
In a 13 to 3 vote, lawmakers authorized an outside firm to evaluate sites for a new jail and public safety complex.
The new jail has an estimated price tag of more than $38 million dollars. The county is spending as much as a million dollars a year to send inmates to other jails due to overcrowding. The cost includes transportation expense and overtime.
Legislator Susan Briggs who helped establish the committee that has recommended a new jail says she feels before the county spends any money to study sites the legislature should figure out how it will pay for the multi-million dollar jail.
The current jail is 25 years old and is need of more than a million dollars in repairs. It is also anticipated that the state is going to require more staffing at the jail due to its outdated design.
SUNY Cortland Professor Dr. Mechthild Nagel has studied the issues surrounding jails and incarceration.
Dr. Nagel argues instead of investing in larger jails the county should invest in alternatives to incarceration that help divert low-level offenders from jail.
Captain Budd Rigg who runs the jail says a larger facility would allow him more space to provide more programs to inmates to become successful outside the jail.
If a site is located and approved by the state it could take up to 3 years to build a new jail.