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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

*NEW* Impacts of Jail Expansion in New York State: A Hidden Burden

  • Organization: Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Author: Dana Kaplan
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Tuesday, May 08, 2007
  • Submitted: Friday, May 11, 2007
  • Attachment(s): PDF

May 8, 2007, New York, NY - A report released today by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on the expansion of jails in upstate and suburban New York finds that the recent increase in jail expansion is most often driven by the wishes of a little-known state agency - the State Commission of Corrections (SCOC) - rather than the needs and wishes of local municipalities. The jail expansion also comes at a time when the overall need for correctional space in New York State is decreasing, which raises questions about the motivation behind building new jails or expanding existing ones.

Authored by Dana Kaplan, an Open Society Institute Soros Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, the report "Impacts of Jail Expansion in New York State: A Hidden Burden" finds that:

  • Between 1999 and 2006, the New York state prison population had dropped from 71,000 to 62,928 people, a decrease of 8 percent in less than a decade. Despite the decrease in the prison population, the combined capacity of jails in upstate and suburban New York increased by 20 percent to a total of 19,984 beds in 2006, with 6,000 more beds due to be added by the end of 2007.
  • Jail construction has cost counties an estimated $1 billion, raising local property taxes in some instances as much as 40 percent and diverting money away from social services.
  • The growth in the number of people incarcerated in jails has not been caused by an increase in crime or by an increase in population-rather, it has been caused by the expansion mandates issued by the SCOC and new arrest and detention policies, including arrest policies for low-level offenses and misdemeanors; a rising number of mentally ill people in jail; system inefficiencies; and the use of local jails to hold those detained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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