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Number of Nassau inmates to be released under bail law reduced

The Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow

The Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow is pictured in a March 11, 2016, photo. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County will release 29 inmates from its correctional center in East Meadow to the public Tuesday — and four to Nassau University Medical Center — as inmates become eligible for release under a new state bail reform law, officials said.

The number provided Monday by Nassau is down significantly from estimates in October, when county officials said about 300 inmates were eligible for release, and two weeks ago, when officials said 175 inmates were eligible for release. 

The state law takes effect Wednesday and eliminates cash bail for all defendants facing misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Officials said the estimate had varied based on the population at the jail, which is ever-changing. Also, four inmates will be released Tuesday for completing their sentences.

As of Monday morning, there were 884 inmates at the jail, down from about 1,100 earlier in the year. The releases will begin about 9 a.m. Tuesday and should be processed by midafternoon.

“Public safety is our number one concern. We’re going to make sure this goes as safely as possible,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in an interview Monday. “We want to reassure the community that we have done and will continue to do everything we can to keep them safe.”

NICE bus service will have additional lines on the N48 route, and a local faith-based organization will provide transportation for inmates who need assistance, according to the county.

Investigator Capt. Michael Golio of the County Sheriff's Department said in an interview that in recent weeks, fewer inmates were admitted to the county correctional center, while other inmates were released as scheduled.

“Because the admissions didn't come in, and the population was already decreasing on its own, the number of projected releases goes down,” Golio said. The 300 figure was based on a projected jail population of about 1,100, while the 175 figure was based on a population of 986 inmates, he said, adding that the average length of stay at the jail is about 47 days.

“Historically, admissions and discharges were relatively even,” and since Nov. 1, there have been “a steady amount of discharges and a lower amount of admissions.”

“It kept going down,” Curran said. “We were careful as we possibly could be. We wanted to make sure we complied with the law and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Legis. John Ferretti Jr. (R-Levittown), a critic of the state law, said the measure was a “public safety threat to Nassau residents.”

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