MALONE — The state has promoted creation of regional jails to save counties money, but that might not be practical for Franklin County to pursue.
“We’d have to explore how anxious the counties around us are going to be about a regional jail,” Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said.
“Essex County Jail is less than seven years old, St. Lawrence County’s is less than five years old, and Clinton County’s main jail is old, but there have been a number of capital projects done, and it is not near capacity.”
It’s worth exploring, the sheriff said.
“But I don’t know how far it would get.”
The topic has been mentioned by Franklin County Manager Thomas Leitz during budget hearings as a wave of the future, but the counties surrounding Franklin County have recently invested in newer facilities.
Clinton County finished the most recent upgrades to its jail in 2006, raising its capacity to 300 inmates.
Essex County opened its new 120-bed facility in 2007, and St. Lawrence County opened a 186-bed jail in 2009.
Franklin County has an old building with a litany of problems, according to a report legislators received this year from Darrin Rubadeau, buildings and grounds superintendent.
The jail was built 20 years ago with the capacity to hold 85 inmates. But after a number of variances granted by the State Commission on Corrections, the jail’s maximum capacity has grown to 127.
Rubadeau said boilers, chillers, the heating and air-conditioning systems, air handlers, electronic gates, generators and emergency lighting are all past their useful lives, which makes them harder and more expensive to maintain and repair as parts grow scarce.
ROOM TO GROW
Mulverhill said there is room for an addition to the current footprint, but enlarging the inmate-confinement area may not be enough.
Support departments would also have to be enlarged, among them the kitchen, visitors room and consultation rooms where inmates meet with their attorneys.