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November 22, 2010 - 8:50am

Today's Poll: If Genesee Justice is shut down will the county will need to build a new jail?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Anthony Timberlake
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To those voting no: Where do you think we are going to send the "criminals" then?
Howard B. Owens
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Anthony, I think they believe that the current clients of Genesee Justice won't be any more likely to wind up in jail.
John Roach
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Howard, Also, many of the clients are the victims of crime being given assistance and not likely to be put in jail.
Howard B. Owens
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John, I'm well aware that Genesee Justice has a component of victim's assistance.
John Roach
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Howard, You are aware, but many people are not. Many people think all they do is try to keep people out of jail and nothing else.
Howard B. Owens
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The more potential immediate financial impact of losing Genesee Justice, and the easiest to measure is the jail issue and whether the current facility would become overcrowded. Victim's assistance (setting aside the question of whether or how probation would handle it) could be a tough issue, but the financial impact will likely be hard to measure. Hence, the poll question phrased as it is. The decision for county residents, and something to communicate to their legislators, is whether they want a "pay me now, or pay me later" situation, or whether they believe that's even a concern. If you are a resident who believes that the closure of GJ could mean more jail inmates, then the decision is: Do you (maybe) want a small tax increase now (though maybe the legislature will find other things to cut, which is also a balancing insure) or risk that there will be an unavoidable and much bigger tax increase down the road because the current jail proves inadequate and a new one is required.
James T. Hansen
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How about back to the towns and cities they are from? Why should Batavia be a dumping ground for other communities?
Bea McManis
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John, When I brought up the victims, I was told by a reader that charities could take care of them.
Howard B. Owens
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It's a county facility.
John Roach
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Bea, Maybe charities would and maybe not. If charities would, then why is GJ doing it at County expense now? Genesee County is going to be about $5 million dollars short, and the City is already short on sales tax revenue. We can all have everything we want and nobody loses their jobs, we just have to raise taxes to pay for it.
Peter O'Brien
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why is GJ doing it at County expense now? John for the same reason we have welfare....
JoAnne Rock
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Another important question might be, even if Genesee Justice continues to be funded, will the County still need to build a bigger jail? Genesee Justice was started in 1981. The current jail was built in 1985. Genesee Justice has proven to provide a cost-savings to the County. It has also reduced the occupancy of the jail to the point where beds have been rented out to other municipalities providing revenue to Genesee County. According to one outdated article I read, The Economics of Restorative Justice (1994), it stated: "Because it has been consistently diverting selected cases to community-based sentences, the Genesee County jail has had room to spare for the past 52 months. New York state prisons, which are at 115 percent of capacity, and the federal corrections system are sending inmates to Genesee. Housing these inmates brought $630,000 into county coffers in 1993 alone." If the revenue that was generated by Genesee Justice was used to sustain Genesee Justice, would we even be having this conversation? Is there presently a problem with overcrowding at the jail or are we too dependent on the income generated by renting jail space that we can't afford to give it up in order to meet our own corrections needs?
Howard B. Owens
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One of the things Sheriff Maha said was the current jail design took into consideration the existence of Genesee Justice. If GJ hadn't been around, they would have needed to build a bigger jail.
George Richardson
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I really like this chat room and Wackenhut will build a prison out between Oakfield and Elba if y'all just say OK. They pay better than WalMart, that's all I know.
John Roach
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Was there a cost breakdown on how much GJ cost for diversion and supervision programs and how much for victim services? Or was it just one cost presented?
Kyle Couchman
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Howard, also to consider is the fact that there will be immediate costs if GJ is closed, not only a new jail to consider but if our jail becomes overcrowded, we will then have to take our prisoners and pay to have them boarded out elswhere until the new jail or addition is built. If we took in 630,000.00 in 1993 imagine how much were gonna have to spend to other facilities.... plus taking deputies off the road to shuttle these prisoners back and forth.
JoAnne Rock
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In the article, only one cost was presented. Keep in mind these are figures from 1994. "The cost savings of community-based sentences are clear. Dennis Wittman estimates it has cost the county an average of $350 per case that has been handled in the diversion program. A majority of those cases otherwise would have resulted in incarceration, at a cost of between $14,000 and $25,000 per year." http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC38/SvGldr2.htm

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