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Orleans plans new jail

The Orleans County Jail has too many inmates and too much water damage, prompting the County Legislature to order a capacity study and, ultimately, construction of a new jail in a different location.

The Legislature accepted a proposal from LaBella Associates of Rochester to provide engineering services for an analysis of appropriate jail capacity. The study and new jail are being mandated by the state, according to Henry Smith Jr., Republican legislator from Gaines and Albion.

"The building facility is not up to par and needs to be much larger," he said.

According to Charles Nesbitt, the county's chief administrative officer, the results of the research should be available in 60 days and cost no more than $19,000.

The land on which the jail sits is not large enough for the future jail. A new 10- to 13-acre lot will be sought.

The jail holds enough beds for 82 inmates. According to Smith, the jail needs to hold between 140 and 160 inmates.

The design of the jail is also a problem. The roof leaks and, according to Nesbitt, doing necessary repairs would eliminate recreational space and hinder inmate transportation. In some situations it is impossible to lock a certain gate, which allowed an inmate to escape last year.

"Chunks of concrete are literally falling off the walls, caused by water damage. It is dangerous to the staff and inmates," Nesbitt said.

Located on historic CourtHouse Square in the Village of Albion, the current jail is the fourth such structure to occupy that site since 1825, according to the county's Web site.

"It has not been specified what will happen to the old building," Nesbitt said. "It was a bad design, but it is adjacent to the 1800-era designed courthouse. What we can do with it is unlimited, tear it down for parking or use it as a secure site for transporting prisoners."

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