Students call for Vassar administration to denounce new Dutchess jail

Dear President Bradley and Dean Alamo,

Dutchess County has plans to construct a $200 million jail this September despite lack of community support or need. The Dutchess County Democrats have introduced legislation to rescind funding for its construction, and it is imperative that this legislation pass.

The following information was posted by the Democratic Caucus of the Dutchess County Legislature on their Facebook: 

“Despite free-falling county revenue and worldwide focus on our society’s systemic inequity, Dutchess County is scheduled to plow ahead with the construction of a nearly $200 million dollar jail this September. Paying back the construction bond will cost county taxpayers almost $10 million per year for the foreseeable future. While there were over 400 people being housed in the jail two years ago, the population is currently down to around 130. The ‘downsized’ new jail is being built to accommodate 328.

“Meanwhile, the portion of the annual county budget allocated to the sheriff’s department and the jail has swollen from $21.2 million in 2000 to $54.7 million in 2020. Health/mental health spending has dropped from $59.3 million in 2006 to $46.4 million this year. Funding for youth programs was $1.68 million in 2006 and rests at $1.65 million nearly fifteen years later. Our priorities need to change now.”

We demand that Vassar pressure the Dutchess County government to rescind funding for the construction of the new jail by issuing a public statement denouncing its construction. Building a new jail will inevitably lock more people up unnecessarily and occupy much needed funds. It will further systemic oppression, racism, and police violence in Dutchess County, contradicting national and local calls to shift legislative funding and priorities towards community needs

Our so-called “criminal justice system” does not address the systemic underlying causes of why people are in jail; creating new jails blatantly ignores the fact that policing and jails do not make communities safer. Vassar is a community that manages conflict by recognizing the humanity in people first. We engage with practices that seek to minimize individual punishment for certain actions, conflicts, or violations, to help harm-doers come to an understanding of how their actions impact others. We give people a chance to seek justice and repair that harm. Practices like restorative justice and, more powerfully, transformative justice — where the harm-doer engages in personal and community transformation to make change — address the source of the issues and are far more effective at providing safety than a jail ever will be. As Vassar values the local community and is committed to strengthening its ties, we must stand in solidarity with community members that also deserve to have their humanity recognized. To do so, Vassar must take a public stand against this atrocity and do all that is in our power to stop this jail. 

Sincerely,

Melissa Hoffmann ‘21

Olivia Vela Page ‘23

Cassie Cauwels ‘22

Christopher Unruh ’23

Alex van Biema ‘22

Lucy Brown ‘22

Jack Oliver ‘22

Samirah Aziz ‘21

Amelia Boyd ‘22

Elisabeth Peterson ‘22

Nathan Johnson ‘23

Jesse Jenkins ‘21

Caroline Hartman ‘20

Kanako Kawabe ‘22

Lisa Smart ‘22

Mara Russell ‘22

Rafaella Spielberg ‘23

Sarah Kopp ‘22

Laurine Kim ‘24

Andrea Everett, ‘20

Olivia Fiol ‘20

Jake Mier ‘22

Hanlin Wang ‘24

Jacob Ettkin ’21

Hikari Tanaka ‘21

Kayla Kern ‘22

Julie Morel ‘19

Mathilda Kloepping ‘23

Narendra Martin ‘20

Doug Cobb ‘23

Sarah Mamlet ‘20

Kaiya John ‘23

Joshua Multer ’14

Annie Wang ‘21

Mohtad Allawala ’23

Rena Lee ‘20

Brynn Lautenbacher ‘21

Lucy Sinclair, ‘21

Xavier Guerrero ‘23

Eliana Blam ‘22 

Alejandra Robins ‘24

Will Clendenning ‘23

Tasha Hescock ‘21

Olivia Keane ‘20

Itamar Ben-Porath ‘21

Zoë Zahariadis ‘21

Phoebe Lippe ‘21

Kaity Martin ‘24

Tess Dernbach, ‘12

Ethan Shanley ’12

Lindsay Irwin ‘21

Rachael Kraft ‘21

Sydney Amspacher ’21

Parvaneh Jefferson ‘21 

Kara Jensen ‘22

Kathryn Antonatos ‘22

Lena Stevens ‘21

Brian Cuautle Garcia ‘22

Jana Chiu ’17

Ellery Cordes ‘23

Manavi Jaluka ‘22

Stephanie Ingraldi ‘22

Ella Xiao ‘21

Julia Wieczorek ‘17

Nina Ajemian ‘23

Juliet Godwin ‘22

Mira Michels-Gualtieri ‘21

Magdalena Schneiderman ‘21

Amy Miller ‘20

Celeste Weidemann ’23

Gaia Blessing ’23

Ilia Mahns ‘23

Mackenzie Cook ‘13

Zoë Turner-Debs ‘21

Sara Azcona-Miller ‘23

Juliana Rivera Sprague ‘21

Estella Zacharia ‘23

Sabrina Castillo ‘18

Beatrix Jones ‘20

Milo Mitchell ‘21

Sumiko Neary ‘20

Jennie To ‘19

Abigail Whittington ‘23

Nell Compton ‘20

Alexandra Hatch ’20

Sarah Garijo-Garde ‘20

Olivia Gotsch ‘23

Abigail Davis ‘21

Jacob Hunter ‘21

Rachel Fisher ‘19

Belle Shea ‘16

Jason Sill ’16

Laura Tylinska ‘23

Rui Cheng ‘21

Molly Manafo ‘21

Niharika Shukla ‘20

Emily Orr ‘22

Sevine Clarey ‘20

Spencer D McGrath ‘21

Alex Gros ‘14

Miranda Alquist ‘14

Michael Kiel ‘14

Jenna Konstantine ‘13

Margaret Matthews ‘20

Lily Feinberg-Eddy ‘21

Paige Anschutz ‘21

Michaela Gayer ‘19

Matthew Choe ‘14

Daniel Shaw ‘14

Nina Zacharia ‘20

Eleanor Ling ‘14

Finley Bomer-Lawson ‘14

Miles Schulman ‘23

Tammy Wang ‘21

Vanessa Vazquez ‘21

Clarissa Longoria ’23

Nicholas Henckel ‘23

Matthew Brill-Carlat ‘19

Elsa Erling ‘21

Tamika Whitenack ‘21

Devlinbleu Chambers ‘22

Zoe Camhi ‘21

Lucy Brewster ‘22

Evan Paris ‘21

Adam Buchmueller ‘22

Emmeline Vickers Batzdorf ‘23

Alouette Batteau ‘23

Mira Genkovska ‘23

Sophie Kaplan-Bucciarelli ‘20

Alexandra Blaine ‘20

Brett Rabine ‘21

Majella Sheehan ‘22

Valerie Espinal Abreu ‘23

Bryson Carter ‘23

Lee Ann Bael ‘21

Sophia Corwin ‘23

Elijah Appelson ‘23

Eva Gomez ‘21

Austin Tabouchirani ’23

Ava Waters ‘23

Lilly Tipton ‘22

Eden O’Connell ‘23

Dana McRae ‘22

Clara Layzer ‘20

Jonah Frere-Holmes ‘22

Sophie McGrath ‘22

Bella Wedes ‘22

Lauren Thompson ‘23

Hannah Thompson ’23

Sophie Wanzer ‘23

Martin Burstein ‘23

Robin Bleicher ‘23

Eleanor Levinson-Muth ‘23

Ceci Villaseñor ‘22

Sophie Novak ‘21

Allegra DeNooyer ‘20

Organizations

UJIMA (Vassar’s Artist Collective for POC)

Vassar TBD (Vassar’s trans/non-cis student org)

Primary Care Progress, Vassar Chapter

March for Our Lives Vassar Chapter

Vassar Democratic Socialists of America

Latinx Student Union 

Vassar Asian American Studies Working Group (VASAM)

Habitat for Humanity, Vassar Chapter

Vassar Sunrise Movement/Extinction Rebellion hub

VC Bikes

Vassar Outings Club

VC Climbing

Vassar College Democrats

Vassar Asian Students’ Alliance

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