New jail was the right decision
Monday, October 18, 2010 - 12:10 pm

To the Editor:

This past Friday, Mark Akins and I accepted Sheriff Kevin Wells’ offer to tour the new county jail to learn how this county department functions and what they are doing to improve efficiency and manage their budget in these restrictive financial times.

The number of corrections officers is at the minimum level, according to New York State requirements. However, as a result of the forethought and planning of folks like Assistant Jail Administrator Dan Dominie, Mike Cunningham, and the jail committee, the design of the facility and various security measures that were implemented provide a safe environment for both the staff and those who are incarcerated. This state of the art facility has the flexibility to accommodate a variety of combinations of inmates of both genders and various age groups, while ensuring the safety and security of them all.

It is obvious from the cleanliness of the entire building and the professionalism demonstrated by the administrative staff, particularly Jail Administrator Randy Bouchard and Kitchen Manager Jen Parker, and the corrections officers that they are all proud to be a part of this department, and rightfully so.

Several measures that this new facility enables have improved the efficiency of the corrections department. It takes a lot less time to process an incoming person than it did in the old jail, increasing the amount of time that officers are back out on patrol. Having the space to house inmates from other counties brings additional revenues to St. Lawrence County without significantly increasing expenses.

The sheriff is considering preparing meals for persons outside the facility that will reduce the number of locations that the county uses and pays for to prepare meals. Additional, new practices that the people in this department are undertaking add to that efficiency.

Sheriff Wells indicated that our tour would have been even more impressive had we seen what conditions were like when the old jail was in operation. Given that New York State was requiring improvements to be made in that jail, that logistics for both inmates and corrections officers were difficult there, and that there was no additional space in which to expand the old jail without disrupting other county services, the building of the new jail was the correct decision.

We are able to house more inmates safely and avoid the cost of paying other counties to house them, saving money for St. Lawrence County taxpayers.

Dan Parker

Candidate for St. Lawrence County Legislature

District 11