YAPHANK - The Suffolk sheriff wants to use money seized from drug dealers to fund a study that looks at alternatives to incarceration.
The state says another $100 million must be spent on the new Yaphank jail, which has already cost Suffolk taxpayers nearly $200 million. But Sheriff Vincent DeMarco is trying to stop the project.
DeMarco says nearly 100 inmates can't make low bail, costing the county millions of dollars each year and increasing overcrowding.
DeMarco is presenting a plan to lawmakers Thursday to use drug dealers' money to fund a study of incarceration alternatives. He believes some alternative programs are overfunded and underutilized, while others are a success.
Suffolk's Drug Court program provides early intervention to drug-using nonviolent offenders. Participants must plead guilty and sign a contract that details the requirements of staying out of jail, including weekly drug tests.
DeMarco says the cost of an alternative program is $25-100 per day, while it costs the county about $250 per day to keep someone in the Yaphank jail.
Right now, Suffolk has 15 programs that are alternatives to incarceration. DeMarco says only three of those programs are routinely used.