BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — The Essex County Sheriff’s Department has been lauded for its professional treatment of federal prisoners lodged at the jail there.
The Sheriff’s Department has a contractual agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service to house federal inmates awaiting trial or sentencing.
In exchange, Essex County gets a per-diem payment for each inmate.
It’s those boarding fees that are helping pay off the cost of building the new jail, Sheriff Richard Cutting said.
“We built a facility that not only fulfills Essex County’s needs but also the needs of the (U.S.) Marshals Service.”
He said 830 federal inmates have been housed in the new jail since it started taking them in 2008.
Boarding fees brought $4.6 million into the coffers of Essex County, which charges $80 to $90 a day.
The 120-bed jail on Stowersville Road in Lewis cost about $30 million to build, with annual bond payments of $1.5 million. It replaced a 24-bed 1870s jail in Elizabethtown that the county now uses for offices and records storage.
U.S. Marshal David Demag and Supervisory Deputy Marshal Insup Shin visited a recent Essex County Board of Supervisors meeting to talk about the boarding program that Cutting participates in.
Demag presented Cutting with a certificate of appreciation from the Marshals Service.
“We wanted to recognize Sheriff Cutting and his very capable staff for their support to the U.S. Marshals Service,” Demag said.
He said the Marshals Service’s Vermont District, which includes parts of northern New York and New England, uses 15 jails in five states to support its operation.
Essex County has one of the top two jails in that district, Demag said.
“We selected Essex County as one of our two jails that we built this program around. We selected this particular facility based upon the professionalism, their organizational skills, their can-do attitude and their support to our particular operation.”
Cutting said he and his staff appreciate the recognition.
“They’ve presented us with some very challenging inmates at times, and through the dedication and the professionalism of our staff, we’ve always been able to help them out, and they help us out when they can.”
In February 2009, a brawl at the Essex County was sparked by federal inmates, jail officials said then. Only one person was arrested as a result of the altercation, which sent five jail correction officers to the hospital with minor injuries.
Major David Reynolds said the number of federal inmates has been holding steady this year.
“According to our records, for 2013, we have averaged 25 per day, and as of right now, we are housing 24 federal inmates.”
In addition to the federal detainees, the jail has about 40 local prisoners on a daily basis, plus inmates boarded in from other counties.
According to its website, the U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for the safe and secure confinement and care and transportation of federal prisoners from the time of court-ordered custody until either their acquittal or their conviction and delivery to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve their sentences.
The Essex County Jail opened in October 2007. It is divided into four inmate pods of 30 cells each.
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