HUDSON–Adolescent offenders, probation and autopsy issues dominated the August 16 Columbia County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting.
The Hudson Correction Facility will “remain the reception center” for 16- and 17-year-old offenders in the state once the new Raise-the-Age law takes effect, reported Vince Doto, county director of Probation. Under Raise-the-Age 16-year-olds who commit offenses after October 1, 2018, and 17-year-olds who commit offenses after October 1, 2019 will be charged as youths rather than as adults. A new category, Adolescent Offender (AO), will designate 16 and 17-year-olds who formerly would have been treated like adults.
But even for youths, sometimes courts determine that the best response to an offense is placement in secure detention for a specified period of time. Raise-the-Age forbids detaining individuals younger than 18 with older individuals. However, Mr. Doto pointed out, “We also do not want to place 13- and 14-year-olds with 16- and 17-year-olds.”
The state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) runs secure detention facilities throughout the state, but these already hold young teens. So OFCS will establish new centers specifically for 16- and 17-year-olds.
The Hudson Correction Facility will also be the only AO detention center with a section for females, Mr. Doto added later.
On another issue, Mr. Doto said, “We’re looking to store firearms at the Probation Department offices at 610 State Street.” Probation officers always carry firearms for their own “safety while conducting home visits and field work,” he said later. Currently, the Probation Department stores its firearms with the Sheriff’s Office. To store them at 610 State Street, the Probation Department will need a special safe. The safe will cost about $700 and using it for firearms arms adds $525 to the cost, Mr. Doto said.
On another topic, county Coroner James E. Bertram announced that St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany is closing its morgue, which until now has performed autopsies for Columbia County. Now, “all of our autopsies will be done at Ellis Hospital” in Schenectady, with Albany Medical Center as the back-up, he said.
Supervisor William Hughes (D-Hudson, 4th Ward) asked about drug overdose deaths, and Supervisor Don Moore (D-Hudson, 3rd Ward) observed, “Deaths from overdoses” are rising. Mr. Bertram answered, that the county is as many such deaths from other parts of the county as from the City of Hudson and that overdose deaths involve “usually multiple drugs, sometimes prescription as well as heroin, a few times only prescription.”
The next meeting of the Columbia County Board of Supervisor Public Safety Committee will take place Wednesday, September 20 at 5 p.m.