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Inmate death in Nassau jail investigated, officials say

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Responding to having heard of a Nassau County Correctional Center inmate's death, the Long Island Citizens for Good Government held a news conference alongside former inmates on Monday, March 7, 2016, to discuss what they consider life-threatening conditions and improper health care at the East Meadow jail. (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

Homicide detectives are investigating the circumstances behind the death of an inmate at Nassau County’s jail on Monday morning, according to authorities.

Nassau police have said the cause of the death of 63-year-old man’s death is so far undetermined, and that the medical examiner’s office is part of the probe.

The fatality comes at a time when the East Meadow facility and its private medical provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, have come under intense scrutiny.

The inmate death follows a series of recent gang-related inmate slashings, a jail nurse’s arrest for allegedly smuggling razors and drugs to inmates, and the state Commission of Correction’s findings last year that Armor has a pattern of providing neglectful inmate care.

The jail oversight agency has also found Armor, which has staunchly defended its operations, provided inadequate care in the deaths of four inmates since the company won its first Nassau contract in 2011.

In Monday’s death, authorities said police personnel responded to the jail in the morning for a call about an inmate not breathing, and found medical staff already giving aid to the man.

But a police paramedic pronounced the inmate dead at 6:42 a.m. after a further assessment, Nassau police said.

Authorities didn’t release the man’s name, but sources with knowledge of the case said he had been serving a 10-month sentence after a petty larceny conviction. The inmate’s family couldn’t be reached Monday.

The state Commission of Correction confirmed Monday that this inmate’s death marked the second at Nassau’s jail this year, following the January death of an inmate identified as Bobby Mitchell, 53.

Commission spokesman Justin Mason said Mitchell’s death also is still under investigation and the cause of his death couldn’t be released yet.

On Monday, activists who included ex-Nassau inmates held a small rally outside the jail — following a similar event Friday — and called for a federal investigation into the facility, citing inmate deaths and concerns about medical treatment and recent gang violence.

The state attorney general’s office already has an investigation underway into medical practices at Nassau’s jail.

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