A participant in SHARP (Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE — The Albany County Correctional Facility, better known as the Albany County jail, will now be known as the Albany County Corrections and Rehabilitation Services Center and it will house not just criminals but the homeless too.
Sheriff Craig Apple said he has an excess space in the 1,041-bed facility and wants to put it to good use. In 2014, he said, the average inmate population 833 and now stands at around 470, which includes about 100 or so who being boarded from federal and other county facilities.
“There is a shortage of adequate transitional housing in the area, and I want to utilize space that we no longer need, to provide a clean independent housing atmosphere for those trying to get their lives back on track,” Apple said. “These individuals would also have the opportunity to get connected with other services to assist them in being successful, when they move into their own permanent housing.”
In addition to Albany County’s programs geared towards helping people change behavior and reduce recidivism, like SHARP, the Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program, there is Raise the Age, bail reform and other alternatives to incarceration that work to lower the number of inmates.
The cells will not have bars or locked doors and those utilizing the space will have their own access.
It is the first time an operational jail has been decommissioned to become a homeless shelter and those staying there will have access to a number of services to help get their lives back on track.
“We are engaged from the moment these individuals enter the building and assist them with getting the help that they need to be successful when they are released,” Apple said. “We want them to have a good foundation when they return to the community, to help restore the family unit, and to become more productive members of society.”