Sheriff upset about state response to safety issues at jail

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Hampshire County Sheriff Robert Garvey didn’t hold back his frustration with the state for what he calls “very poor judgment.” A state inspection found dozens of health and safety issues inside a modular housing unit at the Hampshire County House of Correction.

Assistant Superintendent Patrick Cahillane told 22News, “The building is safe and healthy now. The individuals who live in that building would probably tell you that they do not want to move out of that building.”

The building, which built in 1984, was built to last only five years as a temporary solution to prison overcrowding.

22News sat down with Sheriff Garvey, who says he’s angry. The state wants to repair the modular building, rather than build a new one. He said, “Very, very poor judgment. I have gone nose to nose with them. I have fought with them. I have screamed and hollered, I have banged the desk, with no avail.”

We toured the modular building with Cahillane. Four maintenance staff work to keep it livable but the Sheriff says it’s beyond its life.

Sherrif Garvey said, “It’s a band-aid approach to a situation. In five years, we’ll be sitting here talking about the same things, only they will be five years older and probably in poorer condition.”

The modular housing unit is where the biggest problems are. Cracked tiles, discolored tiles. Here in the bathroom and shower area you have titles that are separating, water can get in here. You have peeling paint, discolored walls and just general wetness. These are all health and safety violations that the state wants to correct.

The nearly 100 inmates housed in the modular building will have to be moved to other jails while the repairs are made between now and July. The repairs should take several months to complete.

The Sheriff says he credits the maintenance staff for keeping the building livable beyond its designed life.

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