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Architectural and engineering work for a major project at the Broome County Jail will get underway soon.

County lawmakers have approved a contract with LaBella Associates of Rochester for an expansion of the facility.

The project also will enable the jail to keep men and women separate in the medical ward. That will bring the facility in compliance with state

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requirements.

Broome County Sheriff David Harder says the fifty additional beds are needed at the town of Dickinson jail to accommodate a growing inmate population.

Harder says the county regularly sends inmates to other counties when the Front Street jail reaches capacity.

Bob Joseph/WNBF News

An unused gymnasium at the jail is to be turned into another housing unit for additional inmates.

Some protesters attended Thursday's meeting of the legislature demonstrating against the planned jail expansion project.

Those against the expansion said Broome and other upstate New York counties are being forced to hold a growing number of unsentenced people.

The demonstrators said they wanted the county to explore alternatives to incarceration.

Brendan McQuade, an organizer, had acknowledged he didn't expect the protest would persuade lawmakers from going forward with the project. But he said he hoped the action would stimulate community discussion of issues related to incarceration.