Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (90th Assembly District) and Senator Vincent L. Leibell (40th Senate District) recently collaborated on a bill that would assist the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department with regard to the detention of persons under arrest and being held for arraignment. Yesterday, the New York State Legislature saw fit to pass this piece of legislation, A.9603/S6065, and it now awaits the signature of Governor Pataki in order for it to become law.
The bill would amend a section of the Correction Law that makes it unlawful for Sheriff’s deputies to detain their prisoners in the Putnam County Jail. Previously, the Sheriff’s Department was routinely using the newly constructed jail as a detention center for pre-arraigned detainees but was informed by the New York State Commission of Correction that this procedure was not in compliance with the law. The Sheriff’s Department changed its procedures to meet the legal standards but this requires that a deputy from the department stay inside the booking room to guard the detainees, keeping valuable officers from their duties on the street. The legislation passed earlier this week amends the law so that deputies can house their detainees in the Putnam County Jail under the supervision of trained corrections officers.
"During these times of heightened security concerns and hreats to our nation," said Senator Leibell, "it is imperative hat we do all that we can to ensure that law enforcement officials can focus on their duties relative to protecting the public. This law will allow them to do just that without sacrificing the security needed to detain prisoners. I am glad to have been able to co-sponsor this necessary legislation with Assemblywoman Galef to see that our constituents get the best possible protection available."
Assemblywoman Galef concurred. "Working with Senator Leibell and the Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith, we were successful in Albany in assisting Putnam law enforcement to manage its personnel more efficiently. This bill provides for appropriate security for pre-arraigned detainees in the new jail."
Sheriff’s departments from around New York State have expressed concern about this issue and amending legislation like this one has been passed in Onondonga, Chemung and Yates Counties.