- By Marcia E. Lynch
The Commission had previously announced its intent as of September 1st to revoke the variance, which since 2009 has permitted double-bunking to allow the Jail to operate above its 82-bed capacity. The Commission's decision to extend the variance came at its meeting today with Sheriff Lansing, County Administrator Joe Mareane, and Jail Captain Ray Bunce. The County had requested that the Commission reconsider the County's variance application and reverse its revocation decision.
As part of the Commission's decision to extend the variance, Commission Chair Thomas Beilein stated that the Commission expects the County to make real progress in hiring a consultant to perform a population study of the Tompkins County Jail and to get the study underway without delay; and that the County will keep the Commission fully informed on every step of the process. The Commission expects to be notified of the identity of the consultant who will perform the study, its ongoing status, and the study's expected completion date. The Commission also requested participation data for the County's various alternatives-to-incarceration (ATI) programs.
The County Legislature this month authorized and allocated funding to support consultant services for two jail studies. The first will analyze current and projected population of the Jail, incorporating current and pending activities intended to reduce the jail population. The second will develop cost-effective design concepts that would accommodate the projected population.
"It is clear that the Commission wants to see real progress in either reducing our population or finding ways to accommodate the current population," Sheriff Lansing said.
Sheriff Lansing noted that the Commission did commend Tompkins County for its ATI programs—both those it has already instituted over the years and those that it will put in place in the future.