Protesters Upset Over Jail Expansion Projects

By Peter Quinn

Published 02/25 2014 04:27PM

Updated 02/25 2014 05:24PM

A group of people are opposed to two expansion projects planned for the Broome County Jail. Scheduled work includes an additional medical unit and a gym that will be turned into a space with beds for inmates. New York State is requiring the medical pod and Sheriff Dave Harder says having more beds will eventually save money because the county won't have to pay to send inmates to other facilities.

However, the group that was protesting outside of county office building recently, says spending $6 million on the projects isn't the answer. They would like to see more more efforts to keep non-violent offenders out of jail, including developing a community bail fund.

"The expansion of the 50 beds is unnecessary, because there are a lot of people in the jail that most likely don't have to be there, that have small charges and small bail put out against them and they're simply too poor to pay the bail. That's a really big waste of taxpayer dollars," said B.U. doctoral student Andrew Pragacz. 

Sheriff Harder and the majority of the county legislature agree that the projects need to be done as soon as possible. Harder says the protesters don't understand the criminal justice system.

"I really believe that they have no idea what they are talking about. They've never been to the jail to see what the problem is," said Sheriff Harder. "They're working on theory whereas I actually work in reality. I have to be there. I have employees. I have the overcrowding and I have the state mandates to work with."

Harder also says the protesters are welcome to tour the jail to find out how it works.

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