Upstate jail populations declining, but sheriffs say costs will not follow suit

Even if prisoner count stays low at county jails across New York – it’s unlikely that cost-savings will be realized.

“If you have one person in a cell block or 20, you need the same number of officers” to maintain security, said Peter Kehoe, director of the New York State Sheriffs Association.

Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed bail reform legislation last year successfully. Those changes have been implemented, to mixed reviews. Supporters say the legislation accomplishes what it intended – while others say it has proven to be a safety risk to those in the community.

“Short term local savings will come from avoiding variable costs such as overtime staffing, food and laundry,” the Cuomo administration said in a briefing book accompanying the budget legislation.

State data notes that Upstate county jails had 21.4 percent fewer inmates on December 31st, 2019 compared to the year prior.


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