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Upstate Justice Groups Take Action Against Mass Incarceration

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Representatives from Regional Upstate Justice groups gathered at the Southern Tier Independence Center to discuss mass incarceration in county jail systems. Mass incarceration us a major national issue and at the meeting, members addressed those concerns on a local level.

Decarcerate Upstate Coalition is represented by four regional counties - Tompkins, Delaware, Broome and Cortland. Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST) invited other counties to join in the movement to try and come up with a solution to the growing population of incarcerated people in county jails, as well as many other issues.   

"If we spend ten million dollars a year on the jail, as opposed to ten million dollars towards drug rehabilitation services for example- that's saying ten million times I'd rather see someone who's an addict get locked up in jail, as opposed to someone on a good road to recovery. Its about priority and allocation of money. We have the money we just need to spend it better," said Bobby Black, Binghamton Community Organizer.

The coalition addressed jail related issues such as bail, housing, health and wellness, as well as many other topics throughout the day. Coordinator for United Voices of Cortland Organization, Kirsten Pagan says she just wants to see her community be successful.

"Our county is currently debating building a new jail structure. So the concept is something that is hot on the mind of much of our community. So I'm just here to represent my community and their voices," said Pagan.

The Broome County Index Crime shows that while serious crime has been falling over the past thirty years, the number of persons incarcerated in the County Jail have grown dramatically.