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Jail assessment: More questions than answers ADVERTISEMENT

Jail assessment: More questions than answers

PENN YAN--Representatives for the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) traveled to Penn Yan last week to review the Yates County jail facility. NIC is a government agency and also a part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. NIC provides support programs to assist federal, state and local corrections agencies.
Previously, Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike had invited members of the institute to come to Penn Yan and prepare a report on the county's 41-year-old jail. Mark Goldman and Karen Albert were two of the NIC members speaking last Thursday, Nov. 16 about their Yates County findings. At the meeting, many Yates legislators as well as county public safety department heads attended.
Goldman said, "We will probably leave you with more questions than answers today."
However they did provide an overview of their visit. Their observations included:
1. The correction representatives have functional concerns about the Yates facility. Goldman said visibility for staffers supervising inmates is inefficient due to the sight lines of the building. Goldman explained that when the Yates jail was built, the thinking was to use a linear building concept. He said today a pod concept has proven more efficient for managing prisoners. Goldman said hidden areas and a poor layout of the booking function are problematic with the Yates facility.
2. The jail lacks specialized housing for inmates with mental health issues.
3. The Yates facility relies on staff intensively to observe and comply with state correction standards.
4. NIC stated concerns about the Penn Yan jail building to accommodate disabled prisoners and also compliance to prevent inmate rape.
5. NIC also said support areas of the Yates jail were lacking and more space is needed for programs and treatment. The overall deteriorating building systems and equipment were also mentioned.
Goldman said there are several different directions the community could decide to respond to the jail assessment. First, he said an area may decide to do nothing. Goldman said this decision increases local liability and sometimes federal intervention is possible to correct.
The consultant said regionalization could be an option for Yates County. This way, inmates would be housed in another jurisdiction.
Goldman summarized saying the county may decide to bring the current facility into compliance or decide to build a new jail.
With any option, Goldman said the timeframe for major upgrades or even a new jail would be several years away and the time for research and planning is now. Goldman suggested the county utilize an advisory group to look at the different details and options to best serve the local community.
Sheriff Spike thanked Goldman and Albert for their comments and suggested they may be invited back to Penn Yan for additional thoughts about the county facility.

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