Cortland County Jail to reopen five months after roof leak

The Cortland County Jail in August 2015 (Cortland Voice file photo)

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Inmates are returning to the Cortland County Jail nearly five months after a water leak in the roof of the facility forced an evacuation of the building and the boarding out of inmates to neighboring county jails.

Staff members from the New York State Commission of Correction toured the jail Monday to assess the status of various repairs following a water leak in the roof in late January, Cortland County Sheriff Mark Helms said in a statement released Thursday morning.

While the necessary repairs have been made, the maximum inmate capacity of the jail has been reduced from 93 to 89 beds after being denied a variance from the commission, Helms noted.

Since January, Cortland inmates have been boarded out to Broome, Cayuga, Tompkins, Tioga and Oneida counties. Inmates began returning to Cortland on Tuesday, Helms said.

"Having all the inmates housed outside of Cortland County posed several challenges to my staff," Undersheriff Bud Rigg said. "I am extremely proud of how my officers conducted themselves during this time of change."

Helms said while the repairs allow his staff to resume its day-to-day operations, they don't fix the problem of an overcrowded jail population in an aging facility. County lawmakers are still mulling the idea of expanding the jail or building a new facility altogether.