Letter: Suffolk doesn't need expansion of new jail
Newsday's editorial calling for an end to mandatory sentences for drug crimes is the right approach to manage crime and high levels of costly incarceration ["Mandatory for too long," June 1].
Unfortunately, in Suffolk County we are out of step with the rest of the country. While New York State and other municipalities have scaled back jail beds, we have been building more jail space. The county and state are arguing about whether to go forward with a second-phase expansion of the new Yaphank jail that opened last year.
It appears to me that the police and correction unions have hijacked our government to maintain high levels of incarceration, which translate into overtime and more jobs. As Newsday has reported, the highest overtime earners in Suffolk County work for the sheriff in the corrections unit.
Ironically, also as reported by Newsday, some of these staff may not actually have been at work when they were supposed to be on duty. It's a disgrace.
Jerry Bilinski, Riverhead
Editor's note: The writer works for a nonprofit agency helping the incarcerated mentally ill.