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Patty Ritchie on cost of housing state parole violators in county jails

Joanna Richards

Right now, county jails – and ultimately, local property taxpayers – are footing the bill for housing state parole violators while they wait for the state to pick them up. State Senator Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) has proposed a solution to the problem.  Many county jails are overcrowded. And housing state prisoners for extended periods before the state gets around to picking them up is costing the county jails about $100 a day per inmate – sometimes much more, with special medical and other expenses.

Speaking yesterday in Watertown, Ritchie said that's unfair to local taxpayers.

“These are state inmates, these are the state's problem, the state should be paying financially, and the counties shouldn't be picking up the tab and causing the overcrowding issue,” she said. “And local taxpayers shouldn't be paying for a state problem.”

Ritchie said the state Senate has passed a bill the last two years that would require the state to pick up its inmates from county jails in 10 days, or else start reimbursing the county facilities for boarding them. But the measure didn't pass the Assembly.

And Ritchie has suggested to the state Department of Corrections that the state prison in Watertown, which just closed down a dorm, could house the state parole violators, rather than the county jails.

At the meeting, Ritchie asked the state Sheriff's Association and the Association of Counties to back her proposals.

Ritchie is running for reelection in November against Democrat Amy Tresidder.