In separate correspondence, Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus reached out to New York State Division of Parole and the Ninth Judicial District Court with specific requests for administrative actions to reduce overcrowding at the Dutchess County Jail.
County Executive Steinhaus stated in a letter to NYS Division of Parole dated November 24th, “The policies and practices of the State by violating parolees that are your custodial responsibility continues to drive up our inmate population and place extraordinary additional costs on the Dutchess County budget that county government and local property taxpayers are unable to sustain.”
Recently Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian Anderson requested the support and approval of the Dutchess County Legislature and the County Executive for a major jail expansion that he expected would cost county government a startling $45 to $50 million. With the decision of the State Commission of Corrections in October 2004 to require an even larger jail expansion, those costs are now projected to exceed $133 million over the life of the bond.
In a letter to the Administrative Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, Steinhaus pointed out costs associated with the State Commission of Corrections demand of Dutchess County to build a new jail would siphon precious dollars from other county departments, services and programs and cause a sharp increase in property taxes for the homeowners of Dutchess County.
“I was surprised to learn,” Steinhaus wrote to the Administrative Judge, “you have assigned one of our County Court Judges to ‘Acting’ Supreme Court Judge responsibilities.” A large percentage of the expanding population at the County Jail constitutes inmates awaiting judicial disposition, trial and sentencing. After the State Commission demanded the County to take steps within three months for an expansion plan, the County has learned as much as 60% of one of the two Dutchess County Criminal Court Judge’s time has been assigned by the Ninth Judicial District away from his County Court responsibilities to fulfill assignments as Acting Supreme Court Judge.
In addition, Steinhaus has called upon Dutchess County District Attorney William V. Grady and specific Dutchess County department heads, who play a critical role in the criminal justice process, to develop policies, procedures and practices to strategically minimize the number of “bed days” inmates are confined to the Dutchess County Jail. The expertise of those involved in this effort should provide both short and long-term actionable steps to alleviate the cost to County.
“The point is, the State needs to be held accountable for its part in the jail overcrowding issue. They cannot be allowed to continue intentionally shifting these costs from the State to the County, just as we have experienced with other State mandates,” said Steinhaus. “As the Chief Executive of this County, I have an obligation to stand up for our residents to fight State dictated policies costing millions of dollars that trickle down onto the backs of County property taxpayers,” concluded Steinhaus.
Attached Correspondence: Anthony G. Ellis, II, Executive Director, NYS Division of Parole
Hon. Francis A. Nicolai, Administrative Judge, 9th Judicial District
cc: Hon. Adrian Anderson, Dutchess County Sheriff
Hon. William V. Grady, Dutchess County District Attorney
Dutchess County Legislators
Hon. Thomas J. Dolan, Dutchess County Court Judge
Hon. Gerald V. Hayes, Dutchess County Court Judge
New York State Legislators representing Dutchess County