Rally held to oppose the new Greene County jail

May 05, 2019 11:42 PM

Sunday afternoon dozens of Greene County residents protested in front of the county courthouse hoping to try to change the minds of some local legislators.

"The question at hand is whether or not the county should invest millions of dollars in building a new jail or stop and and pause and consider alternatives" said Inscha Rahman of the Vera Institute of Justice.

In 2018 Greene County closed it's jail in the village of Catskill after an engineer's preliminary report of the existing space noted the possibility of imminent collapse. The facility was named one of the five worst in the state.

"Currently our jail is closed because of some deficiencies we had, we are boarding people out right now" said Lori Torgersen, a former Greene County legislator and activist against the new jail.
In September after a contentious vote, county legislators agreed to move forward with building a new jail. The facility will be located in Coxsackie and will cost over 46 million dollars to build. Plans will be funded by a united states bond, to be paid over 30 years. Bids were awarded to contractors this winter, but in April criminal justice reform was passed.

"Everything changed in April when criminal justice reforms were enacted at the state level, we are now expecting our jail population will drop down to 15 people" said Torgersen.

Many of those against the jail like protester Inscha Rahman say instead, the money should be reinvested in the community to help change patterns of behavior.

"Investing in things like housing, supportive therapy, treatment centers, workforce development, keeps people out of the criminal justice system" said Rahman. 

Despite the reform, County Legislator Pat Linger says, they still plan to move forward with breaking ground on the jail in mid-May. Hundreds of residents have signed petitions to try to stop the construction in the interim. Many of the people protesting Sunday say they fear taxpayers will ultimately suffer.

"Please legislators pause and rethink" said Torgersen.



Brooke Selby

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