In 1980, inmates at the Nassau County Correctional Center filed a class-action lawsuit against the county in federal court. The plaintiffs, represented by the Nassau County Legal Aid Society, alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by jail overcrowding.
On Oct. 7, 1981, the court forged a consent decree between the government and Nassau County. The agreement provided for, among other things, new construction to ease the overcrowding.
The judgment provided for a maximum population limit and contained provisions on medical services, food, recreation, telephones, contact visits and staff.
In 1999, a Nassau inmate died after being beaten by correction officers. In 2000, in response to that fatal beating, the federal government investigated and found the jail's medical care needed an overhaul as well as its practices concerning internal investigations and use of force.
The finding led to six years of federal oversight, which mandated retraining officers on use of force, and a revamping of the jail's medical care system. In a related probe, the U.S. attorney's office also found the jail's health care was shoddy.
In 2002 federal and local officials signed off on a legal settlement that mandated new policies on use of force and medical care at the jail, that had already been in practice.
In 2005 the federal government ended oversight at the Nassau County jail.