The NYS Commission on Corrections has found that the Genesee County Jail is understaffed and under a complex formula for staffing is mandating that the county hire 10 more corrections officers.
The 10 officers, including two supervisors, are needed to fill the two new posts the commission says the jail needs to comply with state regulations.
The requirement for the new positions is non-negotiable from the commissions point of view, Sheriff Gary Maha told legislators during the county's Public Service Committee meeting today.
When Legislator Robert Baush asked if the mandate is in response to any problems at the jail, such as guards getting beat up, Maha said, no, nothing like that at all.
It's merely a head count by the commission for the size and configuration of the jail and the number of inmates it holds.
Baush said he didn't understand the state requiring the county to spend nearly $1 million more a year when there's no real problem to solve.
Maha said there's really no higher authority than the commission for the county to go to in order to appeal the decision.
The other option for the county -- which will have to happen eventually anyway -- is build a new jail at a price tag of $31 million. A two-story jail wouldn't need the same level of staffing as the existing older three-story jail, but then a new jail would have space for female inmates, meaning female corrections officers would be needed.
If the county refused to comply, the commission would make the county close portions of the jail and reduce the number of inmates, which would mean shipping some inmates to other facilities at a higher cost to the county.
At the end of the discussion, legislators concluded there is no avoiding the expense of hiring 10 more corrections officers.
"It's not something we can bury our head on," Legislator Ray CIanfrini said. "We've got to do it and it's our job to figure out how to do it."