Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 22nd, 2013

New Jail Must Be Built

The Sullivan County Legislature has once again begun discussing the need for a new jail.

Although this is something that should have been done once the legislature was seated back in January 2012, it took a report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s Office to bring this issue back into the spotlight.

The stonewalling of the jail issue by the legislature once again highlights our lack of leadership in Sullivan County government.

Besides being one of the unhealthiest and poorest counties in New York State, we also house the oldest jail that according to DiNapoli’s Office we are on “borrowed time” and at anytime we could have “to close the jail” because of the deplorable conditions.

Even though Sullivan County has purchased property to house a new facility and has spent millions on studies and other costs, there has been very little movement. The Comptroller’s Office wants that changed.

As it stands now, the jail does not meet any of the state’s minimum standards. It is filled with decaying walls, old pipes, and is a hazard to all employees and inmates.

Obviously, the excuse from County government has been that they do not have the funds to construct a new jail. The simple truth is that the longer the County waits the more expensive it will cost to build a new jail.

We are currently transporting many inmates to other facilities costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If a new facility were build we could potentially be making a profit by constructing specialized units that could be used for out of county inmates.

It is outrageous that LaBella Associates, the firm that was hired to do the engineering to conceive the new jail that is supposed to be located on 40 acres near exit 104 off the future I-86 is only 10 percent complete.

The County has spent $4 million so far out of $7 million for concept and design, and the rate it is going, it will probably cost us much more.

An idea that has been floated since the Spitzer administration is that we use the shuttered Woodbourne Annex as a new jail. That concept is flawed and should not even be considered.

It would be ludicrous to have our jail moved to Woodbourne. Not only is it outdated, and it would be costly to renovate it, but its location is too far from courthouses and the highway. The command center for the Sheriff’s Department must be easily accessible to all of Sullivan County.

Because a new jail will not be built anytime soon, Sullivan County Legislator Alan Sorensen has suggested that his elective body revisit an old suggestion of moving the Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division to the former BOCES building near the Apollo Plaza in Monticello. It is something that deserves merit and warrants further study.

It is time that the Sullivan County Legislature acts on our need for a new jail. We can no longer accept band-aids to solve our problems.

To view Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s report on the Sullivan County Jail please visit

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/counties/2013/sullivanjail.pdf

2 comments to New Jail Must Be Built

  • Why must we have a new jail? The one we have is perfectly fine. Animals deserve no better. If anything, spend the money on better working conditions for the MPD and the Sheriff’s office!

  • Ray Lustig

    I read the DOS report. It sounded quite biased and, of course, pushed for a new jail asap. The county’s response was intelligent, practical, and much more realistic than the states projections.

    As a CPA and former financial consultant with Ernst & Whinney in NYC, I believe other alternatives should be evaluated. Perhaps an efficient 50 bed facility used as an intake center and short-term arraignment holding facility should replace the jail. All sentenced inmates will be held at outside facilities @ 80/day. When evaluating the enormous building costs, duplicated costs during the construction period, debt service in an uncertain economy, increased taxes, increased costs, cost overruns and unexpected operating and capital costs, etc. the outsource options could easily prove much less expensive. It would be tantamount to leasing our jail services rather than buying. We could decrease the current sheriff’s department payroll by millions because we would not need as many. The new jail could be build on the existing facilities grounds as it would be much smaller and would keep the much needed traffic in Monticello. The biggest budget increase would be transportation costs which could be systematized and run efficiently. Considering the millions already spent on evaluating a new facility, Why wasn’t an alternative of this nature evaluated and costed-out. (They want to build a new building at exorbitant costs!)
    Say for example it takes $5,840,000 to house 200 inmates for a year. Subtracting 1/2 the current jail’s payroll costs because of reduced needs. The net additional costs (if any) for this out-sourcing alternative would than be amortized over the 30-50 year new jail operating and debt-service costs to see if a new facility makes sense. (please note this is just a common sense suggestion. I did not have access to the current jail’s operating costs.)