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November 15, 2010 - 11:04pm

Lack of jail for female prisoners puts additional burden on Sheriff's Office

posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Sheriff's Office, Genesee County Jail.

The inability of the Genesee County Jail to house female prisons continues to create an expense and drain of resources for the Sheriff's Office, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Monday, Maha informed the County Legislator's Public Service Committee that the cost of housing female prisoners in other counties is going to be $30,000 more than anticipated.

sheriff_gary_maha.jpgThat's the bad news. The good news is, Genesee County Jail has been getting additional federal prisoners for short-term detention. So while the county anticipated $10,000 in revenue from the Border Patrol and Federal Marshals, the actual figure will be closer to $30,000 or $35,000.

But keeping female prisoners in out-of-county facilities has a cost that doesn't show up on a balance sheet -- the only means of transporting female prisoners is to use a designated road patrol.

Deputies must shuttle inmates from Genesee County to Orleans County, or Wyoming or Allegany.

And a deputy on prison transport is a deputy who isn't on patrol.

Ideally, the Sheriff's Office would have a dedicated prisoner transport team, Maha said, but that just isn't a realistic proposal right now.

"Unfortunately we have to live with it, with the resources we have, with the situation the county is in economically," Maha said.

Orleans charges the county $70 per day per prisoner to house Genesee's female inmates.

Because Orleans County jail is closest to Batavia, the Sheriff's office prefers to keep detainees not yet convicted and with pending court dates at that facility.

Convicted prisoners are housed primarily in Allegany County.

Sometimes, however, Orleans runs out of space, and deputies are dispatched there to pick up one of Genesee County's female prisoners and move her to Allegany County.

Maha said he is particularly worried about what the impact will be on the jail if Genesee Justice is eliminated.

"They help us manage our jail population," Maha said. "We have a very efficient operation."

Genesee Justice helps with prisoners who need medical care and it also manages programs that provide alternatives to incarceration. Maha said he is concerned that without Genesee Justice, the local male prison population will outgrow available bed space.

He plans on addressing that issue with the County Legislature at a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m., Wednesday, in the County Courthouse.

Lisa Falkowski
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When the new facility was built, why weren't the female inmates considered at that time? Female inmates aren't a "new thing!" Our tax dollars at work...
John Roach
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Lisa, Back then the number of females locked up was so small, it was less expensive to house them in Orleans. But times changed. The County got caught up in changing attitudes towards women offenders in the mid 1990's and females are less likely to be given "a break" than in the past, and now they go to jail. You saw that at the State level when they had to add beds for almost 1,000 extra female inmates years ago (that number has dropped a bit now).

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