The Broome County Sheriff’s Office recently announced that Major Robert Charpinsky has been named jail administrator.

Charpinsky will supervise and oversee the daily operations at the Broome County Correctional Facility, after 18 years of service to the Binghamton Police Department (BPD), according to WBNG. Sheriff Fred Akshar, the county sheriff, added that Charpinsky will assist him in implementing policies in accordance with the long-term goals of BPD and the larger Binghamton community. He will oversee recruitment, discipline, staff training, performance and direction.

Akshar said that before he took office in January, he had heard that there was a pressing need for leadership and support for both corrections staff and incarcerated individuals under their care.

“Our dedicated officers and staff at the correctional facility perform a demanding job with little fanfare, but they deserve leadership that will support their efforts and respond to the everyday needs that arise in keeping everyone within the facility safe,” Akshar wrote in an email. “My administration is here to turn the corner and respond to those needs, and [Charpinsky] will be instrumental in helping lead our Corrections Division forward, increasing morale throughout the facility and working every day to create a safer, healthier and productive environment for our corrections officers, staff and incarcerated individuals alike.”

From the start of his administration, Akshar claims he has been looking for ways to aid those who are incarcerated and afford them opportunities to “better themselves” through various programs and support. Amid this change in administration, his main goal is to help these individuals reenter society as productive, healthy individuals who can serve their community. This would include giving them tools to successfully reenter society and decrease their chances of reoffending.

Akshar emphasized the pride he felt in his department since he initially came into leadership. He hopes for a continued positive impact with the introduction of Charpinsky as administrator.

“I’m also proud of the progress we’ve made in the few short months of our new administration and look forward to continuing to make improvements to all aspects of the Correctional Facility to better maintain the health, safety and security of all those working or residing within the facility’s walls,” Akshar wrote.

According to Akshar, some changes in the facility include the increase of visitation hours from 15 to 47 hours a week, the implementation of the “largest and most diverse” class of correction officers in the facility’s history and the creation of a new “criminal investigation team,” which includes a K9 unit to curb contraband smuggling. Akshar also wrote about the launch of a new correctional facility garden program started in partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension and the installation of the first pull-up bar in the facility’s history, as well as a resolution to establish clear “LGBTI Guidelines” in response to a settled lawsuit under previous administration.

Juanita Diaz-Cotto, a professor of sociology, Latin American & Caribbean Studies and women, gender & sexuality studies at Binghamton University, expressed her concern about a “military officer” taking over as jail administrator.

“I am not acquainted with [Charpinsky’s] history as a military man nor as a police officer within [Binghamton City Police] (BCP),” Diaz-Cotto said. “Therefore, I do not feel qualified to provide an opinion as it pertains to him personally. However, it is not strange that a former military officer, who has also worked for the [BCP], be named as a jail administrator, as the current trend around the country is to increasingly and more swiftly ‘militarize’ police forces, in order to carry out more massive surveillance, scapegoating and repression of diverse sectors of civil society, especially poor and working-class white and people of color — the most likely to be exploited in multiple ways, be labeled ‘criminal,’ and, hence, be processed through the criminal justice system and imprisoned. Such scapegoating diverts attention from the actions of those who have access to, and control, the vast economic and social resources to which all members of a society are entitled to share and enjoy. Those in power also tend to control the oppressive state apparatus which includes, among others, the military, the police, penal institutions and immigration detention centers. The only option left to us is to continue organizing at the grassroots level to oppose such policies. In the words of Mother Jones — ‘Don’t mourn, organize!’”

Angela Phuong, a junior double-majoring in philosophy, politics and law and Chinese studies, expressed her belief that the new changes in the facility will have the reverse effect.

“Even with the addition of new programs under Charpinsky, I don’t think it will have the impact the administration is trying to have on the incarcerated people at Broome County Jail,” Phuong said. “I feel that the changes, specifically the one regarding an increase in correctional officers, isn’t there for the safety of the people in the facility, but to place more control over them and inhibit the administration’s goal to reform these people into productive members in the community upon their release.”

Editor’s Note (9/21): This article has been fixed with the correct spelling of Sheriff Fred Akshar’s name. Pipe Dream regrets the error.