DOJ Lawyers: String of Suicides in Buffalo Jail Is a “Real Crisis”
I’ve blogged briefly about the DOJ’s ongoing litigation over conditions in the Erie County Holding Center, the Buffalo, N.Y., jail where several inmates have committed suicide in recent years. Here’s a more detailed report from the Buffalo News:
Justice Department attorneys asked District Judge William M. Skretny to decide as quickly as possible to allow federal investigators to inspect the county’s jail in downtown Buffalo to determine if its suicide-prevention procedures are adequate.
In court papers, Justice Department attorneys refer to the proliferation of suicides at the jail as a “real crisis” that should be addressed as soon as possible.
That statement drew an angry denial from Sheriff Timothy B. Howard, who said there is no crisis at the jail. In a telephone interview, he lashed out at Justice Department investigators.
“I do not believe the Department of Justice has been working with us in a cooperative way,” Howard said. “They say, ‘We want to help you, but you can’t be there when we do.’ They want to question people in our facility without county attorneys being present . . . No other employer would stand for that.” …
County officials deny the allegations, saying the lawsuit is based on hearsay and fictionalized events. [County Attorney Cheryl A.] Green has accused the federal government of trying to force county taxpayers to provide jail prisoners with “the amenities, conveniences and services of a good hotel.”