Cindy L. Allen-Tucceri's
The History of the Ontario County Jail: 1789 - 1995

Page 7 of 9

1961 - 1995
The new jail [1961] was estimated to have cost $530,000. [24]

Housing ability [in the 1961 jailed] included 66 cells (60 for men/06 for women), 2 detention cells, and 2 juvenile rooms. The Sheriff's residence was retained along with the jail barn (erected in 1895), and the stone shed (erected in 1816). [25]

In 1973 a Sheriff's advisory committee was formed to set up educational standards, religious services, and recreational programs for the inmates. Isabelle Skellet started the GED program, and 5 inmates successfully obtained their diplomas in 1974. She indicated the need for more space to incorporate a better learning environment, and to include more inmates in the program. The Commission of Correction also suggested that more space be allotted for jail programs. [26]

In the later part of 1978, the New York State Commission of Correction, again notified the Ontario County Jail of its deficiencies. The current Sheriff Gary L. Stewart feared that the jail might be shut down. Overcrowding was again a major problem. Inmates were being housed out in Yates County. Lack of fire safety equipment, additional medical facilities, recreational areas, kitchen improvements, and larger visitation areas were cited as major problems. [27]

Image from a Daily Messenger photo dated 6/10/81 shows jail expansion work in progress. [Scanned from Cindy L. Allen-Tucceri's history.]

February 10, 1981 was the date of another escape, by inmate Thomas Brinson. He was apprehended with in 4 1/2 hours and returned to the jai1. [28]

October of 1980 brought the approval for the expansion of the existing facility. Work started in May of 1981, and included renovation of the existing facility as well as an addition of 23 cells. A new kitchen and laundry facilities were also added. The renovation was completed in the summer of 1983. [29]

January of 1986 brought the appointment of the first female Chief Correction officer in New York State. Senior Correction Officer Alice Haskins was appointed Chief Correction Officer of the Ontario County Jail. Chief Haskins has successfully implemented many programs in the jail to educate inmates in different areas, and to learn skills that might prevent them from committing more crimes. Among these programs are life skills, poetry, food preparation, anger management, etc. [30]

Cindy L. Allen-Tucceri's 1995 historical paper included the following:

Many thanks to the people listed. They helped me to gather information, or point me in the right direction to obtain what I needed.
  • Dr. Marvin Rapp, current Town of Canandaigua Historian.*
  • Dr. Robert Blake, former Town of Canandaigua Historian.*
  • Dr. Preston Pierce, current Ontario County Historian.
  • John T. Hopkins, current Town of Canadice Historian, formerly, served on the Ontario County Board of Supervisors 1954-1960.*
  • Linda McIlvean, Ontario County Historical Society.
  • Mary Jo Lanphear Barone, Ontario County Archives.
  • Delores Furnum, Ontario County Archives.
  • Peggy Carroll, Daily Messenger.
  • Mark Syverud, Daily Messenger.

Earl Thompson's Jail was written and provided by John T. Hopkins.

History Of Ontario County Jail, written by the State Commission of Correction, and the letter written by the State Commission of Correction Secretary George H. Culver were provided to this paper by Dr. Preston E. Pierce.

[*=now deceased]

October 20, 1986, inmate Rolando Alvarez escaped from the jail by scaling the wall of the recreation deck. He was apprehended in 10 minutes, and returned. [31]

In the summer of 1988, overcrowding was once again a major concern. The jail's capacity was and still is 88 inmates. At that time head count for the jail was an average of 115 inmates. County officials were considering an addition on top of the facility to house up to 75 non-violent offenders. The residents that lived near the jail, vehemently objected to an addition on top of the jail. Another suggestion was to build a new jail located in Hopewell. Data Processing was added to the Sheriff's Department in November of 1988. This also presented a problem when considering moving. [32]

In June of 1991, inmate Patrick Williams escaped by scaling the wall of the recreation deck. His quest for freedom lasted 25 minutes; he was then returned. [33]

Alleviation to the overcrowding problems was finally implemented in September of 1991, under the supervision of Sheriff Philip Povero. A modular building was placed in Hopewell. The structure was built to house 48 inmates, and was delivered on a flat bed truck. Inmates that were to be housed in the Hopewell facility were to be sentenced, fit security guidelines, and currently involved in a work program. They were also informed that escape carried a mandatory sentence of 3?7 years. The county leased this structure for $780 a day. This was done with the hopes of building a facility in the near future. [34] At the present time, the facility is still in use.

The New Ontario County Jail and Sheriff's Office. Pamphlet, Canandaigua: October 1961.

'Open House' At New Jail Slated October 21 - 22. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 9/26/61.

O'Conner, Tom. County Volunteers Help Rehabilitate, Provide Schooling, Guidance. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 7/24/74.

Bailey, Kathy. Sheriff Fears State May Close Down Jail. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 12/18/78.

O'Conner, Tom. Escapee Caught After 4 1/2 Hours. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 2/11/81.

O'Conner, Tom. Jail Addition Nears Completion.Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 7/23/82.

Chidsey, Robert. Telephone interview, 4/15/95.

Prisoner Escapes; Recaptured. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 10/26/86.

Rabasca, Lisa. Opposing a Plan to Expand Jail. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 8/16/88.

Korten, Tristram. Inmate Leaps To Freedom but only for 25 Minutes. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 1991.

Syverud, Mark. Temporary County Facility Spurts Up In Hopewell. Canandaigua: Daily Messenger, 9/25/91.

Moracco, Peter. Telephone interview, 4/16/95.

April 28, 1991, a retirement party was held for Rosie Morrow. Rosie served as Matron under Sheriff Ray Morrow, Sheriff Gary Stewart, and Sheriff Philip Povero. At the time of her husband's term, Rosie was the only female working in the Ontario County Jail. Rosie exemplifies the existence of a caring and loving human being. At her retirement party, perhaps Sheriff Povero said it best:

If everyone in the world was a nice as Rosie, there would be no wars, and no problems.[23]

To this day, many officers and inmates alike, still keep in contact with Rosie. [35]

Another first for Ontario County Jail occurred in 1994. The jail was the first county jail in New York State to be honored with accreditation from both The New York State Commission of Corrections and the New York State Sheriff's Association.

Overcrowding is still a major problem in the main jail. The average daily head count is 112 inmates, at the main jail,and 48 in the Hopewell facility. Housing out of inmates has become a daily responsibility for Chief Haskins. At one point in time this year the housed out count was 30 inmates. Wayne County, Yates County, Monroe County, and Livingston County facilities have all been used for housed-out inmates.

Renovations are going to be started April 24, 1995 to add 24 more beds to the jail. The area that will be renovated has been used to house the female inmates. The female head count has been as high as 22 in April 1995. Overcrowding is still a problem.

An important issue that needs to be mentioned is that all active law enforcement agencies in Ontario County use the Ontario County Jail for their commitments. This includes the New York State Police, Canandaigua City Police, Geneva City Police, as well as others, besides the Ontario County Sheriffs. Many people are under the assumption that it is for county only; this is not the case. Even with the overcrowding problem, a new jail for Ontario County is desperately needed. If the people of Ontario County expect the Sheriff's Department to fulfill its duties to the best of its ability, they need to educate themselves to the basic needs of the department.

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