Cooperstown, N.Y. - Otsego County Sherif Richard Devlin says he belives it's time for a new Otsego County Jail.
Devlin, who was just re-elected to his 4th four year term as Otsego County Sheriff, says he wants to sit down with county leaders after January 1st and really talk seriously about building a new jail.
The current jail on County Route 33W in Cooperstown is 27 years old. That may not sound that old, but Sheriff Devlin says when you’re using a facility 24 hours a day seven days a week, day to day wear and tear takes it’s toll, "Three years ago we had an engineering firm come in and review the building and they stated we needed $5 million worth of repairs just bring the building back to standard."
Devlin took us on a tour of the facility and it doesn't take long to see evidence of the wear and tear he is talking about. You can see some problems with leaks in the ceiling and problems with floor tiles, which if they came up, Devlin says coud be used by inmates as weapons.
Devlin says $1.5 million has already been alloctated to make repairs that will begin soon, especially to the shared cell areas, but he says those are just bandaids. He says it's time to really sit down and discuss what's best for the county, long term, "So a large conversation needs to be had regarding the viability of this building. It’s 27 years old right now. It doesn’t meet our needs for the future, so they would have to be additions put on, and is that cost beneficial to us if you’re going to put a lot of money into a building that still doesn’t meet our needs? I'd like to see a public safety complex, as other counties have done in New York State, that would be more efficient for county operations, and we can do that in this complex here."
Devlin says he plans to sit down with county leaders and bring up the study that was done three years ago, and he hopes, make a case for building a new jail, "The study did an evaluation on our inmate population and said that within 3 to 5 years we would probably be housing inmates out, due to cell shortage, and we’re into year three of the five year figure. Lots of things to talk about, a lot of things to look at, but the discussion needs to be had."