Yates County jail population rises

Loujane Johns

According to Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, the Yates County Jail, with 61 beds along with four lock-up cells, has had a population increase of nearly 30 percent over the past year. 

Spike says the jail population has been high all summer. 

The 2008 population was the highest in 10 years.

“We have backed off boarding-in outside county inmates from Schuyler County due to the local population being up and no cells being available,” he says. 

Typically, Spike notes,  the county has one or two Schuyler inmates in the Yates County Jail throughout the year. 

Spike said this stopped in September.

“Although we may have a total of 65 beds, the facility is often full at the 57 count due to classification and male/female separation, ”Spike explains.  He further explained this situation by saying if two females were incarcerated in a cell and a third comes in, a two bed cell would have to be used for that female, leaving one bed empty. 

Spike said the jail in the Yates County Public Safety Building built in 1977, was done in a linear construction. 

The new way to build a jail, Spike explains, incorporates the direct supervision model. 

In a linear building, it takes one correction officer to watch 16 inmates.  The direct supervision model allows one officer to monitor up to 48 inmates.

The New York State Commission of Correction, which oversees local jail operations in the state, released figures illustrating the increase in population from August 2008 to August 2009. 

In 2008 there were a total of 46 inmates. 

In 2009 the total was 59 for a 28 percent increase. 

There were 13 federal prisoners, an increase of one from last year.  

A 33 percent increase of sentenced inmates incarcerated brought the number  from 12 in 2008 to 16 in 2009.

Spike reported that boarded revenue expected by the county from the Sheriff’s Office for budget purposes was targeted for $240,000 for 2009. Through August, the jail had taken in nearly $277,000, already exceeding the annual target revenue. 

The two sources of this revenue are the U.S. Marshal federal inmates and Schuyler County inmates boarded-in.  Yates County is paid $75 a day for federal inmates and up to $80 from other counties.

According to the  2008 Sheriff’s Annual Report, 436 inmates were processed. 

For the average population of 53 inmates per day, 48,050 meals were served.  Under the supervision of a correction officer, 5,828 visitors were processed, including attorneys, nurses, social workers and volunteers.

The week of Oct. 4, according to Spike, the jail population was 58 including 45 from Yates County and 13 federal inmates. 

An additional nine are sentenced to the week-end SWEAPS (Sheriff Weekend Alternate Program), a community labor program.

The alternatives to incarceration programs have been a great help in keeping the incarceration numbers down, says Spike. 

When asked what effect the newly enacted Rockefeller Drug Law Reform might have locally, Spike said it is too early to tell.  It could allow some prisoners to be released early.  

The law, which  went into affect on Oct. 7, restores judicial discretion by eliminating mandatory drug sentencing.  Drug courts and treatment programs will be expanded.

Spike says projecting a trend in the number of prisoners to use in planning the next year’s budget is always a “guesstimate.” 

But for right now, the population is on the rise.