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Editorial: Nassau jail oversight panel is long overdue

The sun sets at the Nassau County Jail.

The sun sets at the Nassau County Jail. Credit: Newsday, 2012 / John Keating

It's been 20 years since Nassau County put in place a charter requiring its jail be monitored by a seven-member oversight board.

It's been five months since State Supreme Court Justice James P. McCormack ruled the county must, in fact, stop the foot-dragging and excuses and establish that Board of Visitors.

And it's been almost that long since County Executive Edward Mangano put forward his list of seven nominees.

Yet the county legislature still has not acted on those nominations. It was scheduled to do so on Aug. 5, but the vote was suddenly postponed by Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow). The reason? To allow for further review.

The need for this oversight board isn't just a formality. The Nassau County jail has a history of poor operations and violence. Numerous suicides have taken place there -- including four between January 2010 and January 2011 -- and prisoner advocates have consistently claimed that the medical care and mental health treatment available are insufficient.

Public discussion of Mangano's nominees and a vote on their confirmation needs to happen at the county's Sept. 23 legislative meeting. The delay, two decades after the charter mandated the board's creation, is inexcusable.

This is a corrected version of the editorial. An earlier version misstated the date for the county's legislative meeting.