Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, acting on a judge's orders, has tapped seven people to serve on a jail oversight panel that's existed only on paper for more than 22 years.
While required by the county charter, the all-volunteer Board of Visitors, charged with investigating inmate complaints at the county jail in East Meadow and advising the sheriff, has never been seated.
Mangano's candidates -- six men and a woman -- must be approved by the county legislature, according to the charter. Four of them are Republicans, two are Democrats and one is not registered with either party, records show.
"That brings the curtain down on this issue," County Attorney John Ciampoli said. "There have been a number of board appointments that we've been moving on. It's just a question of when we can get stuff out of the pipeline."
The action was spurred by a ruling last month in a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union that sought to force Mangano to honor the provision that was written into the charter in 1990.
State Supreme Court Justice James P. McCormack's decision on March 24 required that the county executive create the board in 90 days. Mangano submitted names within days of McCormack's decision.
Jason Starr, director of the Nassau chapter of the NYCLU, said the candidates must engage in "robust oversight" in order to fulfill the charter mandate.
"This is now the responsibility of the legislature to bring this issue up as an agenda item quickly and really look at the . . . history of problems at the jail and ask the critical questions of whether [the candidates] can act independently," he said.
County lawmakers have not yet scheduled a review of the issue.
The appointees are:
Helen Meittinis of Westbury, a civic leader and former jail advisory committee chairwoman.
Michael Califano of North Massapequa, a budget analyst for Nassau County.
Leon Campo of East Meadow, a longtime administrator in the East Meadow school district and member of the jail's community advisory group.
Richard Bivone of East Meadow, chairman of the Long Island Business Council and member of the jail advisory group.
The Rev. Phillip Elliott, deputy county executive for health and human services and pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Hempstead.
Voter registration data show that Albright and Meittinis are Democrats; Califano, Bivone, Elliott and Campo are Republicans. Ferrandino is unenrolled.
Reform advocates, including Starr, maintain that the jail isn't properly managed because in recent years it's been the site of several suicides and inmate-on-inmate and officer-on-inmate violence. Critics also have claimed that mental health and medical care in the jail are inadequate.