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Broome County jail expands visitation hours amid ongoing legal battle

The Broome County jail suspended in-person visitation in March 2020. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)
Jillian Forstadt
The Broome County jail suspended in-person visitation in March 2020. The jail reopened in September 2022, but only offered 15 hours of visitation a week.

Visiting hours at the Broome County Correctional Facility will be expanded from 15 to 30 hours a week, according to an announcement from Sheriff Fred Akshar Monday.

The change comes amid a prolonged fight over visitation rights at the jail.

The jail shut down all in-person visitation when the pandemic began. The jail did not open back up again until this past September, after a judge ruled that it had to. A larger lawsuit filed by activists over visitation rights is ongoing.

Since September, visiting hours have been limited to 15 hours a week for the general population of the jail. For female inmates and people in special housing at the jail, visiting time was restricted to just two hours a week.

Akshar promised that he would open the jail back up to in-person visitation during his campaign last year. Akshar said when more correctional officers are hired, the jail will expand visitation further.

“Expanded visitation is just the first of many changes we’re making to help better ensure that incarcerated individuals have the services and support they need on the inside to help better prepare them to reenter society and not reoffend on the outside,” Akshar said in a statement about the change.

Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST), the advocacy group that filed the lawsuit, put out a statement Monday calling the change “unacceptable.” They want the jail to offer 45 hours per week of in-person visitation.

"Visitation under current conditions makes families rely on expensive video and telephone calls that generate super-profits for the Sheriff and his corporate contractor. We endorse what families of the incarcerated repeatedly demand: that they be paid back the excess millions they have spent due to these restrictions," the JUST statement read.

People can now visit loved ones at the jail Monday to Friday, from 12:30pm to 2:30pm and 6:30pm to 10:30pm, with no appointment necessary.