Jolene Almendarez contributed reporting
ITHACA, N.Y. — A corrections officer at the Tompkins County Jail has resigned after a report of a “romantic embrace” between the officer and an inmate, according to County Administrator Joe Mareane.
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The corrections officer and the inmate were seen kissing by two corrections officers from another county who were inspecting the Tompkins County Jail to make sure that it meets accreditation standards, Sheriff Ken Lansing said.
Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson is reviewing the incident, which may represent a criminal offense, Mareane said. An inmate cannot legally give sexual consent under New York State Law.
The incident occurred on Friday and the corrections officer resigned soon after, Lansing said.
“We weren’t going to hesitate or drag our feet on this,” Lansing said. “…He was out the door in 5 minutes or less.”
The corrections officer, whose name is not being released by either the county administrator or sheriff, worked at the jail for about 3 years, according to Lansing.
“He was a good corrections officer; we never had any complaints against him,” Lansing said.
“He did his job; he was a very caring person and he always volunteered, and did extra things for people … he came here and he worked hard.”
Lansing was out of the office on Friday afternoon when he learned of the kissing, which was seen by the accreditation officers during a tour of the jail given by Capt. Ray Bunce. The incident will not put the Tompkins County Jail’s accreditation at risk, Lansing said.
Lansing said this incident represented one of the challenges faced by the sheriff’s office and said this was the first time he’d learned of sexual contact between inmates and corrections officers at the jail.
The sheriff’s wouldn’t confirm if the inmate was a man or a woman. The corrections officer’s name will be released if he’s charged with a crime, Lansing said.
“For me, this is a difficult part of the sheriff’s office; we do have to keep track of our personnel and monitor that and do our best to ensure their safety, ” he said.
“It troubles us that these things can come up and happen, but we deal with them in a fair and just manner.”
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