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Politics and Government

Onondaga County asks state for help with jail overcrowding

Ellen Abbott
The Onondaga County Justice Center in Syracuse. (file photo)

Onondaga County says part of its jail overcrowding problem could be eased with a little help from New York State. Lawmakers are asking the state to make changes in a policy regarding state prisoners who’ve run afoul of their parole.

Right now, Onondaga County is forced to take state prisoners, who have violated parole, and keep them in the local jail while the justice system decides whether to send them back to state prison. County officials say that policy is squeezing an overcrowded county jail even more.  

Legislator David Knapp says it is part of the reason Onondaga County has to ship inmates out to Oneida County, which he says is a costly solution.

“To send a prisoner to Oneida -- not to mention transportation costs, paying guards overtime -- we get charged $85 a day per inmate,” said Knapp. “And last I heard we have 30 inmates over there right now.”

So Knapp and the rest of the lawmakers are asking the state to help them deal with what they say is an unfunded mandate.

“Either reimburse us for the cost of caring for those inmates, or take them back to the state institution which, the state is actually closing prisons because they have excess space.  So help us out, and take them where they should be,” said Knapp.