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Justice Center Information & Referral

How Are the Housing Units in the Jail Arranged & Managed?


The Housing Units in the Onondaga County Jail are often referred to as Pods. They are managed using a method called “direct supervision.” This means that a single deputy manages a pod with 32 to 60 inmates. The activities of everyone on a pod are monitored with video cameras, and the doors to each pod are controlled from a central control room in the jail. 


A pod deputy provides leadership and supervision within the pod, and the persons held on the pod are expected to follow the directions and orders of the pod deputy. Those who behave appropriately and follow directions are given a high degree of freedom within the housing pod during the morning, day and evening. This includes access to a phone, television, educational programs, a basketball court/recreation area open to outside air, and receipt of food and personal care items that can be purchased from the jail commissary program. 


However, there is a low threshold for unacceptable behavior on the housing pods. Individuals who do not behave according to the rules and expectations for inmates can lose privileges and be locked in to their cells on the pod for a period of hours or days. Serious misbehavior can result in placement in the more restrictive Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) where individuals may be locked in 23 out of 24 hours a day and may not make phone calls, except to their attorney, Jail Ministry and Human Rights.



Pod Interior


   Photo by Brett Carlsen - Syracuse Post Standard - 2013 File Photo



General Housing Pods are located on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Floors of the Jail. Males age 16 and 17 are currently held in a separate pod on the 2nd floor.  However recent news reports indicate that they may soon be moved to Hillbrook Detention Center. Women held in the jail are located on the 3rd and 5th floors. There are separate pods for men and women identified with mental and behavioral health issues. The Booking Unit is located on the 1st floor.


A Note about Direct Supervision:

This method of management of corrections facilities was developed in 1974 by the federal Bureau of Prisons to hold inmates who had not yet been sentenced. This method has slowly been adopted by county jails since 1981, and is considered the standard of best practice in this field.  There are about 350 Direct Supervision jails operating throughout the country. Part of this approach involves the idea that deputies have more interaction with the persons held and can work with them as human beings rather than ensure only that they are held securely as inmates.




What are the rules and expectations for people held in the Justice Center?

What are the procedures if a person held there is accused of misbehavior?


These rules and expectations and procedures are described in detail in the Inmate Handbook. 


To view a copy of the Inmate Handbook in English click here


To view a copy of the Inmate Handbook in Spanish click here




What is the SERT Team and why would it be used?


SERT stands for Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team. Here is information about the SERT Team from the Sheriff’s Website at http://sheriff.ongov.net/custody/control-section/


Utilizing state-of-the-art training and equipment, team members respond to emergency situations involving inmates. Being a member of this team requires on-going rigorous training specific to emergencies that may be encountered and in-service participation in emergency response team activities. Assignments are geared to allow team members to be the first responders to any emergency situation that arises within the Justice Center.“



SERT Team Picture 1

SERT Team Picture 2
                                                     Photos from sheriff.ongov.net




How Can I Visit Someone Held in the Jail?


There are 4 kinds of visits:

  • Contact Visit (face to face in the visiting room)
  • Secure Visit (with a plexi security glass between you)
  • Secure 15 min. "Constitutional" Visit (within 24 hours of arrival in Booking)
  • Video Visitation (available on all housing pods, except not for persons held in administrative or punitive segregation)

Most inmates will be allowed ONE visit per day and TWO visits per week.  Each visit is no more than 1 hour.  All persons seeking a Contact or Secure Visit must register in person at the Justice Center Front Desk before any visit. Visitors may register and then return when visitations starts for that day or night.          


Note: Persons coming to visit from out of state or from a great distance may contact the jail

            at (315) 435-1709 to schedule a contact visit in advance.

  • Registration for Contact Visits is on Monday through Friday from 2pm to 8:30 (or until all slots are full)
  • Registration for Secure Visits are Monday through Friday from 7am to 9:15am & 12:30 to 1:15pm AND on Saturday & Sunday from 3:30 to 6:30pm

 Visits are granted according to a schedule:

  • Persons housed on the 2nd & 3rd floor may have a visit on Monday, Wednesday          and/or Friday
  • Persons housed on the 4th & 5th floors may have a visit on Tuesday, Thursday               and/or Friday
  • Persons held in administrative or punitive segregation may receive visits                            only on Tuesday and Thursday. 

Note: For persons held in administrative or punitive segregation, registration for contact visits

          will begin at 7:15 pm and contact visits will occur at 9:00 pm. Secure Visits for these

          persons will be held at 7:30am. 


There are 5 rounds of regular Contact Visits per night. 1 or 2 people (including children) are allowed to visit an individual in each round.  The first round of visits begins at approximately 3:30 pm; The last round begins at approximately 9 pm.

Up to 17 persons are allowed in the visiting room per round.  


Visitors who arrive for a visit must take a number and will be called up to the desk in order to check in. A visitor must be present when their number is called, or they will be assigned another number as time allows.


Secure Visits will be offered:

  • Monday through Friday from 7:30 - 8:30 am, 9:30 - 10:30am, and 1:30 - 2:30pm
  • Saturday & Sunday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

There are specific rules for Contact Visits and Secure Visits. Visitors must follow all rules for visitation. To review these rules click here or go to http://sheriff.ongov.net/custody/visitation/ 


Two Notes about Visiting with Children:  

  • Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children 16 or 17 years old must be accompanied by an parent, or and adult who has clear consent from the parent or guardian (consent must be given in person at the jail or through a written notarized document).
  • A supervised children's playroom is available on Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 7pm for children from infants/newborns to 12 years of age while parents/caregivers are visiting a person held in the jail. There is no cost for this service, which is provided by Jail Ministry. Space is limited to 10 children on a first come first serve basis.

For more information about video visitation Click here to read more

To register for video visitation click here: https://onondagany.gtlvisitme.com/app




How Can I Send & Receive Mail to Someone Held in the Jail?


Persons held in the jail can purchase envelopes using commissary funds.  Envelopes are stamped in the mailroom after they are collected from the housing pods.  A person who does not have commissary funds can request a free "indigent packet" which contains a limited number of envelopes that will be stamped free of charge. This can be requested once a month starting after the first 30 days a person is held in the jail.


Letters can be mailed to persons held in jail by sending to: 


Inmate Name (Inmate Control Number ______) *

555 S. State St.

Syracuse, NY 13202


* Go to http://sheriff.ongov.net/lookup to identify a person’s Inmate Control Number


All incoming will be opened and inspected for contraband, except for mail from a person's attorney or other places considered legal entities.  




How Can a Person Held in the Jail Make a Phone Call?


Persons held in the jail:

  • can make a collect phone call to someone outside the jail.
  • can put funds from their commissary account in an account they can use to make phone calls
  • can make a free phone call to the officers of either Human Rights or Jail Ministry or Vera House

Persons held in Segregated Housing, Administrative or Punitive Segregations may not be able to make phone calls to anyone except their attorney, or the offices of Jail Ministry, the NAACP or Human Rights. They will be allowed only 1 call per week on Monday mornings between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm. Calls will be limited to 10 minutes.


All phone calls may be monitored by Custody staff except for calls with a person's attorney or with Human Rights




What Items Can I Deliver to a Person Held in Jail?


Allowed Clothing Items may be dropped off at the Front Desk of the Jail on this schedule:

  • Monday through Friday 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Allowable Items include:

  • 4 pairs of WHITE socks
  • 4 WHITE t-shirts (no tanks)
  • 4 pairs of WHITE underwear
  • 1 thermal undershirt (white, grey or beige)
  • 1 pair of thermal underpants (white, grey or beige
  • 4 sports bras

All packages will be searched. Any item that is not on the allowable list will be considered contraband


Inmates can only receive books or magazines DIRECTLY from the publisher.




How Can I Post Bail for a Person Held in the Jail?

How can I Retrieve Bail Paid for a Person Held in the Jail after their Case is Over?


This is described on Sheriff's website   This information is located halfway down on the Money/Property Drop Off page - click here




How Can I Put Money Into the Commissary Account of a Person Held in the Jail?


Persons held in the jail can use their commissary funds to purchase supplemental food and personal care items.


If a person has any cash on their person when they are brought into booking, it will be deposited into their commissary account.


Persons outside the jail can deposit money into a commissary account by using the electronic kiosk (like an ATM machine) to the left of the front desk.  Money can also be deposited into a commissary account at the bail window in the Justice Center lobby from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and/or from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm every day, including weekends and holidays.


For information about how to deposit money into a commissary account over the internet click on this link on the Sheriff's website.  Note: This process will require you to have the person's full name as well as their Inmate Control Number (ICN), and to use SYR for the facility code.  To identify their ICN see the section below.


Person held in Administrative or Punitive Segregation will NOT be permitted access to their commissary account.





                   THE SHERIFF'S WEBSITE at http://sheriff.ongov.net/custody/justice-center




How Can I Contact Administrative & Medical Staff in the Jail by Phone?


To reach the Front Desk (in the Jail Lobby/Visitors Waiting Room) :  


To contact or leave a message for the Medical Department :             


To contact or leave a message for the Mental Health Department :   


To contact or leave a message for Custody Administration :         

(315) 435-1770


(315) 435-1790




(315) 435-1709

 To be transferred to the Booking Unit or the Bail & Property Window call the front desk.





What is Jail Ministry?
How Can I Contact Jail Ministry to Ask Them About Someone in the Jail?


Jail Ministry describes itself as "a grassroots, social justice, spiritually founded community collective organized to advocate on behalf of the incarcerated, to promote peace-making and to advance the protection of human dignity within the community." (Source: http://bradyfaith center.org/ministries) Its volunteer Visitor-Advocates regularly go into the Justice Center and visit inmates on their housing pods.


The Jail Ministry Office Can be Reached at (315) 424-1877

Persons held in the jail can call Jail Ministry for free once a day.  They can ask Jail Ministry to relay a message to a family member or someone else that they need to contact, however three way calls are NEVER allowed.  Note: Persons held in administrative or punitive segregation may only call Jail Ministry once a week. 


Jail Ministry volunteers can visit a person weekly on their housing pod while they are held in the jail.  Persons held in the jail can use a referral form to request this service, or their family members can contact Jail Ministry to make this request.


Jail Ministry also has volunteers who enter the jail daily to visit inmates on their housing pod to assist with specific needs or requests for assistance.  Persons held in the jail should fill out a referral form to request this service.


Jail ministry also has a program to assist with low cash bail.  Family or friends of a person held in the jail must contribute half of the low cash bail amount up to $500.  The bail office can be reached at (315) 565-5580.  Jail Ministry does not assist with bail bonds.





Where can I look up information about someone being held in the Justice Center, what their charges may be, and when they are likely to be brought to court.


There is a site on the Sheriff’s website called “Inmate Lookup” at sheriff.ongov.net/lookup.  Anyone can go to this site, enter the last name of a person held in the jail and view information about their situation. The columns in the “Inmate Lookup” record include the following information reading from left to right:


- Last Name, First Name Middle Initial

- Inmate Control Number (ICN)

- Age

- Floor, Pod and Cell Number (ie. 5B035 = 5th Floor, Pod B, Cell 35)

- Offenses Charged with / Sequential Number of Charge (ie. 001, 002, 003)

- Name of Court in which Case will Be Heard (ie. City Court vs. Town Court vs. County Court)

- Next Court Date

- Police Agency that Arrested the Invidivual

- Amount of Bond option

- Amount of Cash Bail option

- Remarks related to Bail, Judge (J) at Arraignment,

  or reference to another charge in Sequence


Note: There is a similar Inmate Lookup feature for person's held at Jamesville Prison

          at www.ongov.net/correction/lookup. This Onondaga County Department of

          Corrections site is separate from the Sheriff's Inmate Lookup Site. 


          There is also a separate Inmate Lookup feature for person's held in the NY

          State Prison System at http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/kinqw00





Criminal Court Building Syracuse, NY

                Photo of Criminal Court Building

        by John O'Brien - Syracuse Post Standard



Where could I find out more information about a person's criminal case?


To seek more information about a person’s criminal case you may also try to contact the clerk of the court in which their case will be heard:


  • For Misdemeanors In Syracuse City Court – City Court Clerk (Criminal) 315-671-2760


         Note: The City Court judge that presided over the original arraignment of a person

         after arrest may or may not be the same judge that hears the case as it goes forward


  • For Misdemeanor and Traffic Offenses that were alleged to occur in Onondaga County but outside of the City of Syracuse, contact the related Town or Village Court. 


        To view an official government website listing town and village courts with only

        their addresses click here.  To view a word document with a 2017 listing of all

        courts in Onondaga County with their addresses, phone numbers, and several related

        websites click here.


  • For Felonies – Onondaga County Court Clerk (315) 671-1020


        Note: Cases that are awaiting decision of the grand jury may not be assigned to a specific

        County Court judge until the grand jury has officially reported its decision whether        

        or not to indict the defendant.  A person newly indicted will then be re-arraigned in

        front of the County Court judge that will hear their case.








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