GLEN — County detention centers across the state this year will be equipped to churn certified custodial technician candidates into the labor market, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association announced on Monday at Montgomery County jail.
The new vocational initiative is intended to boost inmates’ employability after incarceration, while upping cleanliness standards at county facilities. All expenses are covered by a multi-million-dollar state Department of Health grant awarded in 2021.
“Certainly, we all have incarcerated individuals assist us on a day-to-day basis and as we stand here today,” Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith said at a press conference. “But this is a national certification program, something that could help them when they get released.”
The Cleaning Management Institute, a division of The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, will train correctional supervisors in one setting per region. Starting Tuesday, instructors are expected to train officials from 10 jails across the region at Smith’s post on state Highway 5S.
While CMI has served state prison populations since the 1980s, this effort is mostly new across the county jail system in upstate New York. Outliers include Schenectady and Ulster counties, according to NYSSA President Craig Apple.
Robert Cuttita, a former Schenectady deputy superintendent of three years, introduced the program while working under Sheriff Dominick Dagostino in 2015. He now spearheads the certification initiative statewide as NYSSA’s COVID detection and mitigation manager.
“It’s funny because when I started the program, at first, it was not well received by the officers because it made me look, I would have to say, weak and I was doing more for the [jail] population,” Cuttita said. “But as I got it going, officers actually wanted me to get [the program] into their housing index.”
As COVID-19 ripped through detention centers across the state, NYSSA officials sought out the model as a means of streamlining cleanliness practices to mitigate diseases across close-knit jail populations. NYSSA also expects to get more out of new cleaning supplies supplemented under the grant by Amsterdam-based distributor Hill & Markes.
Once the current funding stream runs out, costs associated with the program will likely be funneled through commissary funds, according to Cuttita.
Statewide, 57 jails were distributed a minimum of $50,000 by NYSSA to launch the program. Montgomery County’s jail, which had 126 inmates as of Monday, was allotted $74,000, due to its admission and discharge rates.
While there’s no limit on program enrollment, prospective inmates will be vetted based on their behavior, health and record at Montgomery County jail.
“That’s all going to depend on each individual sheriff to find the right people who are getting ready to be released into the community to be able to utilize the information they receive while they’re here,” Cuttita said.
Among several levels of janitorial training provided by CMI, only entry-level certification will be provided through the NYSSA jail program. Enrollees will not be paid.
“One of the primary focuses for us is to create career pathways and career journeys for individuals, whether they’re incarcerated or not,” said Brant Insero, senior director of training for The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association. “So throughout that process, we offer a programming certification of entry level, all the way up to CEO level of a business.”
The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Associatio has trained some 300,000 custodial industry workers in the last 40 years, including at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.