Jail overcrowding will cost Onondaga County taxpayers $100,000 this year

The Onondaga County Justice Center can hold a maximum of 671 inmates. Every morning chief custody officer Esteban Gonzalez and his staff meet to see if they are overcrowded and will need to move inmates to another facility. Sometimes a bed will be open in the female, youth or mental health section of the jail but they will have too many inmates in another category.

"We have 671 beds but you can't use 671 beds because of the classification of the inmate population," said Gonzalez.

Right now Onondaga County taxpayers are paying for eight female inmates to be boarded in Wayne County's jail. On Tuesday, the Onondaga County Legislature had to vote to approve $100,000 dollars in spending for boarding overcrowded inmates this year.

Gonzalez is hoping county lawmakers will approve a proposed fourth tower for the jail. It could add 200 beds including a state of the art mental health unit and would allow the county to receive money for boarding federal inmates and those from surrounding counties

"We've done studies and we would be able to recoup the cost. Obviously it would be a large expense but in the long term it would save money," said Gonzalez.

County Legislature chairman Ryan McMahon says a fourth tower is being considered but he and other lawmakers want to look at why the jail is receiving so many inmates before they approve a major expansion

"We need a real systematic approach to try to deal with this, we need to work with the district attorney's office, our judges, probation because we can't have lots of non violent offenders in our jails costing lots of money," said McMahon.