The Onondaga County Legislature will vote Tuesday on two pieces of legislation that could close Jamesville Correctional Facility.
Tuesday’s vote comes about two months after County Executive Ryan McMahon and former Sheriff Eugene Conway announced the proposal.
Legislators will vote despite concerns from current Sheriff Toby Shelley, who has said he needs more time to evaluate the proposal. Shelley took office in January.
The county executive’s proposal names April 1 as the deadline to close Jamesville.
There have been three public meetings about the potential closure in the Legislature in the last month.
At each meeting, Deputy County Executive Ann Rooney and Shelley’s administration have argued their positions.
The county has maintained that Jamesville has few incarcerated people and too much staff, while the county jail is understaffed. Rooney argued that moving all incarcerated people and staff to the jail would fix the problem with little harm.
The county is also afraid of potential legal action over its inability to get defendants to in-person appearances at court.
Defendants booked at the jail and arraigned in Syracuse City Court must appear virtually right now. That could be a constitutional violation, County Attorney Bob Durr said.
In addition, the county agreed to a 2014 settlement after it was sued over protections for defendants at their first hearings. The Office of Indigent Legal Services, which enforces the settlement, notified the county the virtual appearances violate the settlement.
Shelley said the jail could become overcrowded if the county merges the jail and correctional facility’s populations.
He has argued that proposed changes to the state’s bail law could lead to more people awaiting trial end up in jail. Gov. Kathy Hochul included the changes in her state budget, which is set to be approved by April 1.
An Albany-Times Union analysis found Hochul’s proposal could lead to thousands more defendants statewide landing in jail before trial.
The New York State Commission of Correction, the regulatory agency that oversees jails and prisons in the state, sent multiple letters to the county about the potential closure.
The vote is Tuesday. Check back to Central Current for updates.
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