Oswego Sheriff questions if female criminals are getting a break from the courts

Oswego County Jail

The women's section of the Oswego County Jail is overcrowded. The inmates crimes range from larceny to rape - but Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd says that women are often sentenced to time in the local jail instead of state prison.

"In many cases - if it were a male that committed these crimes they would have probably been sent away," said Todd.

Todd says that the the double standard also costs a lot of money for Oswego County taxpayers. The county has been paying $90 a day to board up to fifteen female inmates a day at other facilities.

On Monday, Todd looked over the records of some female inmates in the county jail and questioned why they were being held locally. Todd kept the inmate's name anonymous but described the record of one inmate who Todd believed should be in state prison.

"Now after 40 or so arrests and many of them felonies - she should be doing state time and not doing local time and costing local residents," said Todd.

Todd said some inmates have had their sentencing delayed by up to twenty months and are then released with time served. That allows the inmate to do local time for an offense that would normally require a stay at a state prison.

Syracuse defense attorney James McGraw said convicts would rather stay in a local jail than do hard time in state prison. McGraw said he believes it is possible that more women are successful at negotiating local time with prosecutors and judges.

"A woman prisoner very often has a number of children and more responsibility, more often than the man and I think the judges are persuaded to keep them as long as they can," said McGraw.

Todd says the justice system needs to look at equal time for equal crimes.

Female inmate overcrowding is an issue in several other Upstate New York county jails but Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering closing two women's prisons - in part because the state prison population has declined in recent years.

The jail overcrowding problem in Oswego County is so severe that alternatives are now in place to allow accused criminals to remain in the community through programs such as pre-trial release, home confinement, and GPS tracking devises.

The Oswego County Jail has a maximum capacity of 169 inmates.