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Hampshire County Sheriff Furloughs 77 Staff To Meet Mass. Budget Cuts

The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo
The Republican / Masslive.com/photos
The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The Hampshire County Sheriff's Office in Northampton, Massachusetts, will furlough 77 staff members to comply with state budget cuts.

Sheriff Patrick Cahillane said each employee will take a day off a week through late October.

The furloughs are meant to protect jobs in the long run, he said, and employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Cahillane said the jail will not compromise on safety and that furloughed medical staff are arranging for their shifts to be covered.

But some educational or substance abuse programs may be cut back.

"There may be a class canceled here or there, but it may be a situation where it's only canceled once a week. It's not canceled for good," he said.

Cahillane said the jail population has gone down by almost half since the pandemic began, partly because the court system has slowed down. But while that reduces some expenses, like food, the jail still has many fixed costs.

The current furloughs do not include correction officers who guard inmates. Cahillane said management is still negotiating with the officers union.

As an elected official, Cahillane will not take a furlough, but he said he will voluntarily give up one day of pay a week. He expects he'll be working the same amount.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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