Letter: Make use of jail alternatives
I applaud Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco's candor against building more jail beds, when other alternatives to incarceration could be implemented ["Suffolk sheriff: More jail space unneeded," News, April 28].
Social workers who serve the incarcerated population have known for years that many defendants languish for months awaiting court dates for low-level, nonviolent offenses because they could not make small bonds. What sense does it make for taxpayers to pay $250 a day to keep someone in jail for months because they cannot make a $100 bail?
While we scale back critical health services in Suffolk County and attempt to close down the county-operated John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, we are at the same time expanding and spending more money on jails. It's madness!
I sincerely hope that county and elected officials will heed DeMarco's advice and move to divert low-level offenders from costly incarceration to cost-effective alternatives. It's the right moral and public policy position.
Jerry Bilinski, Riverhead
Editor's note: The writer works as a case manager for a nonprofit agency that serves incarcerated mentally ill clients.