On March 21, 2016, the Dutchess County Legislature voted to approve funding for the design and construction of the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center (DCJTC). The 19-6 bipartisan vote follows several years of public input and careful analysis to address Dutchess County’s long-standing issue of lack of capacity and need to house out inmates. The DCJTC will be an efficient, modern facility that provides the necessary space to expand the County’s innovative restorative justice programs to better transition inmates back into the community and decrease future recidivism, as well as provide the housing space required by the New York State Commission of Correction. The new DCJTC is expected to save taxpayers more than $5 million annually beginning in the first year of operation—2021.
The Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center (DCJTC) will be built at the site of the current Dutchess County Jail facility on North Hamilton Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. The new DCJTC is proposed as a 297,000 square feet facility with up to 569 beds. The project proposal includes several options to scale down the size of the facility prior to construction if the County continues to have success in bringing down the average daily inmate population. Most of the current facility will be demolished, with the exception of the section built in 1995, which will be renovated and incorporated within the new building design. The current Sheriff’s Office building will also be demolished to make room for the DCJTC, and a 56,000-square-foot Law Enforcement Center, with enhanced design efficiency and greater public access will be built at the site of Taylor Manufacturing building on Parker Avenue purchased by the County in 2014. The entire site will feature expanded on-site parking and significant green space to enhance the streetscape view based on public input at community meetings. The County will work with the City of Poughkeepsie to ensure the architectural and neighborhood functionality of the DCJTC is beneficial to the surrounding area.
The proposal for the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center follows several years of analysis and research that began in 2012, when County Executive Molinaro directed the Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) to undertake a comprehensive needs assessment of the Dutchess County criminal justice system. The CJC’s Needs Assessment Report, which was validated by industry expert RicciGreeneAssociates in 2013, called for a two pronged approach – first, enhance the County’s innovative work with Alternatives to Incarceration programs to divert people away from the jail and drive down recidivism; and second, move forward with larger jail facility, designed as transition center campus where the County can improve its ability to institute additional evidence-based rehabilitative and re-entry programs.
Much work has been done as part of the County’s efforts to divert individuals away from the jail including the creation of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team, which assisted more than 3,700 individuals in 2015 alone; Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for local law enforcement, ensuring every officer on patrol knows how to effectively interact with individuals in crisis; and a new Stabilization Center that opened in February 2017 to serve as a location to divert those individuals in crisis away from the jail and toward the help they need.
The new facility will provide critical space to offer evidence-based programming to help inmates address behavioral and criminogenic issues, such as the County’s RESTART program that offers cognitive therapy for high-risk offenders that is linked with critical aftercare and connects them with community providers when they return home. This program is off to a very successful start but is already at maximum capacity due to lack of space at the current jail. Special populations, such as women, those with substance abuse issues or mental health issues, will also be better served with appropriate housing units designed to best address their needs.
Additionally, the modern design will provide a far more efficient staff-to-inmate ratio, estimated to be at least a 1 correction officer per 3 inmates. The current jail facility (not including the temporary housing units) requires a 1 correction officer-to-1.2 inmate ratio. This will provide significant annual operational savings.
The bond authorization also includes $500,000 for the “Path to Promise” Action Plan, a comprehensive analysis of existing youth services and development of a youth empowerment action plan. The Path to Promise initiative is being facilitated by Public Consulting Group (PCG) Human Services, an industry-leading management consulting firm. PCG will examine and analyze how youth services are provided within Dutchess County in a two-phased approach, looking internally at services provided directly by Dutchess County Government, as well as services provided throughout the community by various organizations and agencies. The research and analysis, which will be done with a breakdown of services for various age groups from infancy to early adulthood, will culminate in a specific action plan focused on the Developmental Assets to ensure linkages are created in the services available from one age group to the next, as well as inclusion for youth with special needs. The action plan will include tools to measure outcomes and success, and will be critical in guiding future youth initiatives and funding in Dutchess County, including funding committed in the capital plan for a youth services center.
The total cost for the design and construction of the Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center, the Law Enforcement Center, as well as the project definition for the new Youth Center, will total $192,150,000. Costs include design, site work and demolition, furniture, fixtures and equipment and bullet resistance for the Law Enforcement Center. Additionally, these costs build in potential cost escalation as well as auditing services. The funding resolution calls local business and workforce preference to the extent possible under applicable laws.
When completed, the total operational costs of the DCJTC are estimated to be $13.6 million less than the projected costs to continue to operate the current facility and house inmates in other facilities. The total annual cost savings for taxpayers equate to $5.4 million annually for the new facility, when factoring the significant annual operational savings compared to debt service payments.
During construction of the DCJTC and the Law Enforcement Center, the County will utilize Bond Anticipation Notes (BAN), a commonly used financing method for large construction projects that are expected to take several years to construct, and will provide long-term operational savings once complete. The BANs minimize the short-term impact on the County by deferring the principle payments during the construction process until the facility is open and the significant operational savings begin to be realized.
As we have since we began this process, we are committed to an open and engaged process. Continue to visit these pages for meetings, documents and materials related to the DCJTC design and construction process.