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Letter: It’s disheartening to see county jails among worst

It’s disheartening to see county jails among worst

Wouldn’t it be a nice surprise if the Erie County jail system were singled out as one of the five best in the state? Instead, a new report, titled “The Worst Offenders. Report: The Most Problematic Local Correctional Facilities of New York State,” issued by the New York State Commission of Correction in February, informs us that our county jails are at the dead bottom, among the five most dangerous out of 62 counties.

The report summarizes the commission’s special investigations in 2010, 2015 and 2016 dealing with two inmate escapes and an assault, and four “inmate mortality investigations” from 2012 to 2014, as well as other safety, reporting, training, sanitation and other problems in the facilities identified in several visits of the commission in 2016 and 2017.

While the Sheriff’s Office agreed to correct many of these, many are recent and show a continuing indifference to constitutional rights of inmates, most of whom have not been convicted of any crime.

In response to the series of warnings from both state and federal prison authorities, what has Sheriff Tim Howard done? He only shows up at the jail and the correctional facility “a couple times a year,” according to his sworn testimony. Yet, somehow he found time to appear with white supremacists at a rally last year.

Time is up now. Howard has proven that he is incompetent and not even trying to perform the role of county sheriff.

Jean Dickson


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