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Nassau County jail conditions ‘inhumane,’ activists say

The Nassau County Jail Advocates Coalition rallies Wednesday,

The Nassau County Jail Advocates Coalition rallies Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Mineola for changes to conditions at the Nassau County jail. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Island medical, religious, legal and education activists on Wednesday demanded immediate reforms at the Nassau County jail, where they say “inhumane” conditions are responsible for a series of inmate deaths since 2011.

Members of the newly formed Nassau County Jail Advocates Coalition were joined by Nassau Democratic legislators and recently incarcerated inmates and their families at a news conference in Mineola.

The advocates — including members of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP’s Freeport and Roosevelt chapters and other medical and social justice groups — say conditions at the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow have deteriorated and often violate inmates’ civil rights.

Coalition members later attended a meeting of the Nassau Legislature, repeatedly interrupting proceedings and marching across the hearing room.

“All of us have seen the sick, the injured, the physically and emotionally challenged who have been beaten or isolated, neglected or ignored,” said Susan Gottehrer, the NYCLU’s Nassau chapter director, who criticized County Executive Edward Mangano and Sheriff Michael Sposato’s management of the jail.

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Capt. Michael Golio accused the group of “an unwarranted attack on the integrity and professionalism of all our employees at the Correctional Center.”

The coalition wants the jail’s board of visitors restructured to include members with expertise in mental health, education and addiction. The group also wants the board, whose role is limited to responding to inmate complaints, to have a budget staff and subpoena power.

Additional demands include improved access to medical and psychiatric services, extended family visitation on weekends and fully funded re-entry and drug rehabilitation programs.

Nassau University Medical Center, also in East Meadow, assumed responsibility for inmate health care on Sept. 1, replacing Armor Correctional Health Services.

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