Skip to main content


Dutchess County Prepares to Open New, Modern Justice & Transition Center
More than $20 million under budget; new facility provides expanded programming space to focus on rehabilitation while delivering annual cost-savings and enhancing public safety

Published: 10/10/2023

Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil joined Dutchess County Sheriff Kirk Imperati this morning to recognize those involved in the development and construction of the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center (DCJTC), a modern, new facility serving as the cornerstone of Dutchess County’s innovative restorative justice efforts, addressing the root causes of criminal activity to rehabilitate offenders for successful transition back to the community and prevention of future recidivism. The more efficient, safer facility will open more than $20 million under budget later this year and is expected to significantly reduce annual operational costs compared to the former facility.

Sheriff Imperati said, “This new facility enhances the safety and dignity of both those who are incarcerated and our correctional team who work here. It is the result of the hard work of many people coming together to address long-standing problems. I am grateful to my predecessor Sheriff Adrian ‘Butch’ Anderson, as well as former County Executive Marc Molinaro and so many others for making the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center a reality.”

County Executive William F.X. O'Neil
discussed the DCJTC at today's event.

County Executive O’Neil said, “The Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center is a testament to persistence – a legacy project. Dutchess County Government has again demonstrated exceptional collaboration, multi-faceted expertise and a fierce determination to overcome challenges and implement solutions. There are so many aspects to this project - unique, progressive design; restorative justice strategy; careful budgeting and financial modelling and tracking; a highly complex construction plan and the ever-changing environment for criminal justice law; public engagement and the economic impacts on construction costs and material and labor availability – and now we stand at the finish line, ready to open this building and serve as a statewide leader for restorative justice."

The new DCJTC will meet the County’s needs for years to come. The 161,987-square-foot facility features a larger state-of the-art medical infirmary including a women’s medical unit with enhanced medical and mental health services; expansive classroom and programming areas; professional, industrial kitchen and laundry; and improved staff areas. The design incorporates substantially more natural light than the current facility and is fully climate-controlled, creating a better environment for both incarcerated individuals and the correctional officers charged with their care.

The contemporary design employs the innovative direct supervision strategy used nationally for inmate management, and housing unit design that minimizes the need to move people from place-to-place within the facility, minimizing risk and reducing the number of required correctional officers. Compared to 12 housing units with a separate recreational area in the old building, the new 328-bed facility features six housing units, each with its own recreational area, including one female unit and units specifically designed for the RESTART program. Enhanced security features, additional cameras and improved sight lines also add to the facility’s efficiency and help provide a safer, more appropriate workplace for the County’s valued Corrections team. These staffing and operational efficiencies will result in lower annual operating costs compared to the old facility, in addition to the savings the County has already reaped from reducing housing out costs and staff attrition.

The new Dutchess County Justice & Transition
Center as attendees gathered for today's event.

The construction of the DCJTC followed several years of analysis and research that began in 2012, when then-County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro directed the Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) to undertake a comprehensive needs assessment to address the County’s longstanding, costly issue of “housing-out” incarcerated individuals in other counties’ jails due to lack of capacity in the Dutchess County Jail. The existing jail’s capacity was limited to 250 inmates. With daily average population reaching as high as 550, the County was forced to house out hundreds of inmates daily. Housing out was costing taxpayers up to $8 million annually and had serious, negative implications, including disruption of the judicial process, extended length-of-stay, increased risk for correctional officers, and limited access to critical programming and family visitation for incarcerated individuals.

U.S. Congressman Marc Molinaro said, “Today, the goal we set 11 years ago has been met. Dutchess County now has a modern facility with the needed space to expand the County’s nationally renowned alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice programs, increasing public safety and delivering savings to taxpayers. This new Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center will serve as a criminal justice model that helps individuals get the support and services they need to successfully return to the community. I am proud to have been part of making this day a reality and offer my congratulations and thanks to the many people who it made it possible.”

The CJC’s Needs Assessment Report, validated by nationally recognized, industry expert Ricci Greene Associates in 2013, called for a two-pronged approach: enhance the County’s nationally recognized, innovative work with Alternatives to Incarceration programs to divert people away from the jail and drive down recidivism; and develop a larger jail facility, designed as a transition center campus to expand the County’s ability to institute additional evidence-based rehabilitative and re-entry programs.

Following years of developing the design, size and scope of the DCJTC, in partnership with leading experts in criminal justice and social work and with extensive community engagement, including evaluation of multiple site options, including the former Hudson River Psychiatric Center in the Town of Poughkeepsie; in March 2016, the Dutchess County Legislature, in a bipartisan vote, approved $192.2 million for the design and construction of the new facility – planned, at the time, for a capacity of up to 569 beds. The project planned for the demolition of most of the existing jail facility, except for the section built in 1995, which would be renovated and incorporated within the new building design. The plan required the original Sheriff’s Office building be demolished to make room on site. The new 56,000-square-foot Law Enforcement Center, with enhanced design efficiency and greater public access, was built at the site of former Taylor Manufacturing building on Parker Avenue and was opened in 2019.

Sheriff Kirk Imperati discussed the DCJTC's
many enhancements at today's event.

As the project got underway, the County remained committed to expanding efforts to reduce jail population through its robust alternatives to incarceration programming; the introduction of multiple mental health intervention services, including the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team; and opening the 24/7 Stabilization Center, as well as the addition of the RESTART program.

These efforts, combined with the new Bail Reform laws enacted by New York State in 2020 that drastically decreased cashless bail and the need to remand defendants before trial; enabled the administration to reduce the size and capacity of the DCJTC and reduce the planned cost. Following the New York State Commission of Correction’s (COC) final approval of the DCJTC design, construction began in December 2020.

The project has been overseen by Dutchess County Public Works Commissioner Robert Balkind and County Public Works staff. Additionally, a transition team* was appointed by Sheriff Imperati to provide input and guidance throughout the design and construction process and plan for the successful transition between the old and new facility. Key project contractors included LaBella Associates, Architect; Pike Construction Companies, General Contractor; Turner Construction Company, Construction Manager; and Black Creek Integrated Systems Corporation, Security System and Controls Contractor. Ricci Greene Associates served as Dutchess County’s owner representative throughout the project.

Commissioner Balkind said, “This has been a lengthy project with complicated site design issues that required the project to be completed in multiple phases. It has been one of the most challenging times in history to build such a large-scale project as the construction industry has been intensely challenged by rapidly rising costs and delays due to inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. Despite these challenges, we reached this milestone of completing the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center with minimal delay and more than $20 million less than the approved project funding. I am grateful to my Public Works team, the Transition Team and all our professional contractors who brought this new facility to fruition.”

The planning and construction of both the DCJTC and the Law Enforcement Center have been carefully monitored by Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois, who has issued multiple financial update reports over the past several years, all validating the project has remained significantly less than the originally approved funding.

Members of the DCJTC Transition Team stand
alongside County officials at today's event.

The programs and services offered within the DCJTC make it an example for the future of criminal justice and include:

Immersive Rehabilitation and Emphasis on Community Reintegration

The DCJTC places a strong emphasis on rehabilitation and therapeutic programs, providing incarcerated individuals with the necessary tools to address the underlying causes of their involvement in the criminal justice system, including the County’s successful RESTART - Re-Entry Stabilization Transition and Reintegration Track program.

 

 

An initiative of the CJC’s Special Populations Subcommittee, RESTART is a multi-agency partnership between the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Corrections, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health, Family Services and Project MORE that offers an intensive approach to treating the underlying causes of criminal behaviors. Nearly 1,000 have graduated from the program since it began in 2015. The new DCJTC will allow for further expansion of the program, with dedicated space for services including large group areas, office space for staff, and an environment encouraging engagement in program offerings. The new RESTART units allow for deeply immersive programming, doubling the number of classes offered daily to at least six hours per day on topics such as Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT); counseling for grief, loss, or trauma; substance use recovery; the National Institute of Corrections’ “Ready, Set, Work!” program; interactive journaling; and anger management, among others.

Those graduating from RESTART are then eligible for comprehensive re-entry programs upon release, including the Re-Entry Community Housing and Resource Guided Empowerment (RECHARGE) program, which helps individuals after incarceration find and maintain safe housing, case management services, employment, education, and more.

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Services

Recognizing that many individuals in the criminal justice system require comprehensive care and support, the DCJTC offers specialized mental health and substance use treatment. Dutchess County led New York State with the introduction of Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT), which promotes recovery for those living with opioid use disorder and has been proven to reduce overdoses and future criminal activity. Among other services, recovery support, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous’ 12-step programs, is also available for those recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Education and Workforce Development Training

Incarcerated individuals will have access to education and vocational training, equipping them with valuable skills that increase their chances of securing employment upon release. Threshold, for example, educates participants on life’s challenges and teaches them how to deal with these challenges appropriately. During this six- to eight-week program, which is run by trained civilian volunteers, incarcerated individuals learn to evaluate their way of thinking and decision-making skills. Dutchess County Community College also offers educational services at the DCJTC, providing Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) preparation, test administration and academic assessment, to assist participants in earning a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma.

Other programming and services in the DCJTC include parenting skills, religious services, Bible study, and work opportunity programs, many offered in partnership with various community agencies, volunteers and faith-based organizations.

Once the DCJTC is occupied, work to demolish the 1985 portion of the old jail will begin. The existing temporary housing units, known as the PODS, must also be removed to complete site work. The full project is expected to be complete by August 2024.

The 1995 portion of the current Dutchess County Jail will remain and be repurposed for other uses such as transitional or affordable housing. In the short term, it is expected to be utilized as the temporary location for the County’s Emergency Housing Facility, currently located in the PODS, which will enable the County to safely house homeless individuals and most importantly, begin the critical programming that is not possible to conduct in the current PODS location. The County will be able to offer critical wrap-around services, including mental health, substance use, housing case management and vocational assistance as work continues toward the development of a permanent location for the Emergency Housing Facility.

Moving forward with the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center has enabled the County to reduce costs and redirect dollars to a multitude of other critical endeavors, all while reducing the amount of property taxes collected from taxpayers. A sampling of the initiatives and expansion of services undertaken since the funding for the DCJTC was approved in 2016, include:

  • Investment in and development of the countywide youth center, the Youth Opportunity Union (or the YOU), to be built on the site of the former YMCA building in the City of Poughkeepsie, to be the physical hub of Dutchess County’s innovative “Path to Promise” initiative and other expanded youth services. Dutchess County has committed $25 million to invest in the YOU;
  • New state-of-the-art Office for the Aging senior center in Poughkeepsie;
  • Expansion of mental health and substance use disorder programs, including establishment of the County’s Empowerment Center at 230 North Road in Poughkeepsie, and a partnership with WMC Health to create a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital;
  • Growth of the Dutchess County Drug Task Force and School Resource Officer programs, embedding law-enforcement officers in the community to increase public safety;
  • Expansion of award-winning Dutchess County Parks system, including the Northside Line urban trail connecting the city and town of Poughkeepsie, addition of Upper Landing Park, the acquisition of the Lake Walton Preserve, extension of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and the installation of pickleball courts at Quiet Cove Riverside Park;
  • Continued investment in countywide infrastructure, including County roads and bridges;
  • The creation of Dutchess County’s Housing Trust Fund to aid implementation of affordable housing projects;
  • Dutchess County’s Police Reform & Modernization Initiative, with funding for procedural justice, implicit bias and crisis intervention training for law-enforcement officers; body cameras for Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office deputies and initiatives to develop a more diverse candidate pool for police agency hiring; and
  • $30 million investment in a Coordinated Countywide Emergency Response Communications radio project
Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver
thanked all involved in making the DCJTC a reality.

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver concluded, “With the construction of the new Justice and Transition Center, we have been able to create a facility that will be a criminal justice model and help people get their lives back on track. I applaud the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office - in particular the transition team - and all those other partners who were involved in ensuring that this facility best serves both the population it houses, but also the officers who dedicate their careers to protecting our community.”

*DCJTC Transition Team members

  • Col. Gerry Lennon
  • Investigation Sgt. Will Moore
  • Corrections Officer Gina Toth
  • Corrections Officer Shafic Dhalla
  • Deputy Kate Holder
  • Corrections Officer Anthony Lewis
  • Corrections Officer Chion Scott
  • Deputy Jail Administrator Anthony Pica
  • Corrections Officer Tim Robinson
  • Jail Maintenance Supervisor Andrew Richard and his maintenance team