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Jail suicide renews calls for oversight

The Nassau County Correctional Facility is seen in

The Nassau County Correctional Facility is seen in East Meadow. (Oct. 27, 2010) Photo Credit: Sean M. Gates

The fifth suicide at Nassau County's jail in two years renewed calls Saturday for creating an independent oversight committee for the troubled facility.

The latest suicide at the East Meadow jail was discovered about 3:30 p.m. Friday, when a correction officer found a 33-year-old man hanging in his cell, Nassau police said. The prisoner, who was not identified pending notification of his family, had been alone in his cell.

Police said the man was pronounced dead at 4:20 p.m. at nearby Nassau University Medical Center. Police declined to say Saturday why the man had been jailed or what he hanged himself with.

Samantha Fredrickson, director of the Nassau New York Civil Liberties Union, did not address the specifics of the suicide, but noted it was the seventh death at the jail in two years.

In addition to four suicides between January 2010 and January 2011, Roy C. Nordstrom, 46, of Shirley, died at the jail in June 2011, hours after he complained of illness, went to the infirmary for treatment and was sent back to his dorm unit. His death was described in a preliminary report as a heart attack.

Last month, on Jan. 7, Antwan Brown, 26, of Long Beach, was killed during a fight with another inmate.

Sheriff Michael J. Sposato, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on Friday's suicide, saying the circumstances of the death was under investigation.

Fredrickson said: "It's really a shame, we have been telling the county to address the problems at the jail. It's really unfortunate we have another death."

She said inmates have complained to her group of lax medical and mental health care at the jail, which they think may have contributed to the suicides.

Fredrickson called again yesterday for the appointment of oversight committee members, which the Nassau NYCLU and other groups, including the Freeport/Roosevelt chapter of the NAACP, and the Nassau Inmate Advocacy Group, have urged County Executive Edward Mangano to do.

The committee would examine records, hear inmate complaints and make recommendations for jail improvements to county officials, Fredrickson said. She said the groups have gotten no response. Neither Mangano nor Sposato would comment on the idea Saturday.

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