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Sen. Ritchie introduces bill to fix Jefferson County jail issue over arraignments

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WATERTOWN — State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, 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 Watertown Police Chief Gary R. Comins on March 28 that after April 15 the county lockup no longer would be able to hold prearraignment suspects, under state corrections law. The deadline left city and county officials scrambling to change a system that has operated for the past 20 years.

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

Sen. Ritchie’s 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 bill can be viewed here: http://wdt.me/spG82U

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