Tag Archives: #ecjails

Minimum Standards Unmet

11 Mar

You may recall this post that Marc Odien wrote the other day in response to repeated claims being made by the county administration that its jail system lives up to – or exceeds – minimum state standards.

But the state has taken issue with the county’s claims, and ordered the county to take corrective action in March 2009, claiming that conditions at the jail were unsanitary, unhygienic, and otherwise substandard. The county balked, and the state Commission of Corrections took the county to court.

And won.

So far, the anti-agenda, anti-status quo folks have lost every time they try. Tim Howard? In 2006, the state concluded that Ralph “Bucky” Phillips’ escape (and subsequent cop-killing) was thanks to the Alden Correctional Facility not meeting the state’s minimum standards.

This is getting to be a habit.

The Sheriff was trying to cut corners by classifying different prisoners in the county jail differently. For instance, if you get popped for disorderly conduct in Hamburg, you might get kept in a lock-up until the first available arraignment time. That’s usually a very short time frame measured in hours, not days. Town lock-ups that detain people pre-arraignment are not considered “jails”. The jails, however, are considered jails. A 2002 law permits towns to ship inmates awaiting arraignment to the county jail.

Sheriff Howard wanted to treat pre-arraignment detainees differently from post-arraignment detainees who are held for longer periods awaiting trial.

All this over toilet paper and toothbrushes.

Erie County Jails: Wins & Losses

10 Mar

You won’t read this anywhere else, because…well, I don’t know why.  I think it’s somewhat important because it was a major issue during 2009 and the recent Sheriff’s campaign.

Marc Odien explains that the Commission of Corrections won a court battle to ensure that inmates get assessed for safety risks, get hygenic supplies, and have clean bedding.  Guantanamo Tim loses one.

The Sheriff’s department is desperately trying to look decisive and ethical by firing the deputies who illegally beat the crap out of a detainee and lied about it.  Beating the crap out of a detainee, of course, is just another word for torture.  It’s also not the first such allegation, and calls into question the veracity of all of this “suicide” talk.

I picture federal DOJ interviews of county officials being not unlike the Monty Python Parrot Sketch.  “They’re not dead, they’re resting”.

But while we have inmate after inmate end up pining for the fjords, the state action is based on the premise that the jails are not up to the minimum standards the state requires, quite contrary to what the county is saying.  This is such a failure of leadership, but the Boss Hogg-esque Collins administration and our own Rosco P. Coltrane get away with it because the people of Hazzard Erie County for the most part don’t have contact with the prisons and don’t really care if people behind bars are treated humanely or inhumanely.

Until it’s their neighbor or family member.

Deep Thought

9 Mar

How soon before we always surround the word “suicide” with quotation marks when referring to the Erie County jail system?