ITHACA, N.Y. –– Daniel Cornell has been appointed as the new Tompkins County’s Director of Probation and Community Justice.

At a meeting of the county legislature on Tuesday, legislators voted unanimously to support Cornell’s appointment by County Administrator Jason Molino. Cornell is replacing outgoing Director Pat Buechel, effective Jan. 31, 2020. Buechel is retiring in 2020 after 36 years with the county. 

Cornell has served in his current position as Deputy Director of Probation since 2018. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Ithaca College, with a focus in Juvenile Justice, According to a press release from the Tompkins County Legislature.

Cornell began his career as a probation officer with Delaware County in 1995 and came to the Tompkins County Department of Probation in 1999, where he has served as a probation officer, senior probation officer, and probation supervisor, before assuming the position of Deputy Director. Cornell has worked with Buechel the entirety of his time in Tompkins County.

Administrator Molino told the Legislature Mr. Cornell was selected as the result of a, “productive interview process and discussion involving two excellent internal candidates.” Molino believes that Cornell exemplifies the culture and mission of the department. 

“Our probation department in general is different than most probation departments. It’s very service oriented towards their clients. They’re trying to help them improve their lives as individuals. They’re very committed to the probationers that they’re responsible for and they’re very hands on and trying to assist them as they navigate whatever challenges they face in life. So our team in general has a good perspective of empathy and a good perspective on those for the individuals that they deal with,” Molino said. “We think that Dan can continue that.”

Cornell says that the biggest change under his leadership will be adjusting to bail reform taking place in New York State.

“The New York state bail reform legislation is a huge undertaking that the state legislature has passed to limit the number of offenses that people can be incarcerated for pre-trial. So that’s going to have an impact on what the judges are able to do for people once they’re arraigned,” Cornell said. “The expectation is that people be given the least restrictive conditions that would guarantee their return to court. Some of our release under supervision programs (will be affected) in an unknown way at this time. So we’re just standing at the ready to see what bail reform means for probation here in Tompkins County.” 

 Cornell says he is passionate about working in probation and is excited to step into the new role.

 “We have the opportunity to really make an impact with individuals whether they be crime victims or people who have been accused of or convicted of committing crimes –– just trying to help identify what their needs are,  what’s contributing to the problems that they’re having in their lives,” Cornell said. “Having an opportunity to offer them access to things to improve their life, improve their health, improve their well-being and make them successful functioning community members.”

Update (11:28 a.m. Thursday): This article has been updated to include a quote from Administrator Molino. 

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com