New jail, new approach to incarceration in Dutchess County
When Dutchess County corrections officers move to a new jail facility on North Hamilton Street later this fall, they will also be moving to a new, more sensitive approach to incarceration.
In addition to providing better experiences for inmates, the new Dutchess County Justice and Transition Center will be safer and require less staff than the current county jail, also on North Hamilton Street.
After an opening ceremony and tour of the facility, Sheriff Kirk Imperati told News 12, the current -- and soon to be former -- jail requires up to 205 corrections officers to properly operate; the new one will require about 180 COs.
Imperati said the new jail's design has better lines of sight by which fewer COs can monitor larger groups of jail residents, whereas the current facility's design -- from 1984 -- requires more COs.
"We can house a 50-person unit with just two corrections officers," Imperati said, "It's a very effective, very efficient ratio."
Considering insurance and salary which would cost approximately $100,000 per position, Imperati estimates the county could save up to $2.5 million on staffing.
He believes his COs' new approach will also lead to lower numbers of repeat offenders, which would also indirectly save taxpayer dollars.
Imperati and several other officials at the unveiling also touted the security improvements.
"The new facility is also a safer environment for our valued corrections officers," County Executive William FX O'Neil said during Tuesday's press conference, "and that has been a goal since the beginning of this project."
County officials said the atmosphere will feel different to incarcerated people.
Upon arrival, each inmate will be provided a personal electronic tablet to be used for video calls with family, but also for movies, books and music.
The new facility will also offer numerous self-improvement programs to help incarcerated people learn basic skills or recover from addiction.
"[We offer] state-of-the-art environment, and the different tools that are accessible, and different programs that are offered to our incarcerated individuals," Imperati said, "working with the corrections commission of New York State, this is what they recommended we do, so that's what we're doing."
Imperati said the new facility should open, at the latest, in early December.
County officials said in a press release after the event, they expect the soon-to-be-vacated jail to house the county's shelter for homeless adults. Currently, the shelter is housed by temporary pods.