If the Walls of Oneida County Jail Could Talk

By Stefan Rubitski

The Oneida County Correctional Facility in Oriskany NY has dire issues that need to be addressed, from the cruel and unusual treatment of the mentally ill to the lack of nourishing meals down to the lack of staffing.

Individuals with mental health illnesses and chemical dependency, although housed in a different unit, are detained without proper medical treatment. Is it inhumane to incarcerate individuals in a facility in which they will not receive proper treatment? Many of these individuals have committed a crime in which they would have otherwise not done if they had received the proper care and attention needed. Utica is facing an epidemic of individuals with mental illness and chemical dependency and the unfortunate and official solution is to just incarcerate them.

Recently there was a budget cut that has left these individuals to figure out how to deal with life on their own disregarding their lack of ability to process how to live healthy lives. Jails are already overpopulated and to add to the already overpopulated understaffed facility there are more serious issue that need to be addressed.

There is a lack of nourishing meals provided to inmates. The amount of food provided is not adequate for an adolescent let alone adults. The price of commissary is outrageously overpriced. Many individuals incarcerated have no money to purchase food and are left hungry with and a mentality to physically attack or rob others to eat. This causes violent disruption within the facility.

In addition to the overpriced commissary, the phone system requires a deposit of $25 in which almost $5 of that is taken for a surcharge, with the balance it may afford you only 3-4 phone calls to your loved ones, and that is if you are a local resident.

These mental and physical health issues need to be addressed within the Oneida County Jail facility for change to happen. Otherwise, in addition to the jails being overpopulated, individuals that leave the facility without proper care or attention to their issues, what is the solution for them to not return? The recidivism rate will continue to climb and the community will continue to be at risk for further damnation by the mentally ill and addicted.

Now is the time to call your County, State, and federal representatives. Please advocate for changes in the Oneida County Jail. Funding for Mental Health and chemical dependency should be a priority in Oneida County.

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