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Bill introduced in state Assembly to correct jail problem

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WATERTOWN — Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, has introduced a bill aimed at fixing the problem of how to detain suspects before their arraignment.

The bill would allow the Jefferson County sheriff to detain suspects arrested by Watertown city police in a holding area at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building while they await arraignment by a judge. Jefferson County Sheriff John P. Burns informed the city March 28 that after April 15 the county lockup no longer would be able to hold suspects before arraignment, under state corrections law. The deadline left city officials scrambling to change longtime practice.

Mrs. Russell’s bill coincides with one that state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, introduced this week.

The bill would amend the corrections law to allow city police to place prearraignment suspects in the custody of the sheriff at the PSB once again.

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators passed a resolution Tuesday requesting that the state Legislature enact the legislation.

The suspects now are taken to a pair of holding cells in the City Court wing of City Hall to await arraignment.

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