Our Story 

On July 15th, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on Erie County's two jails featuring harrowing accounts of abuse and mistreatment of the inmates there. Among the lowlights of this woeful report are such accounts as:

- A pregnant inmate being booked into the Holding Center in August 2007 was struck in the face, thrown to the ground and kneed in the side, losing two teeth, the Justice Department said.

- Holding Center deputies take inmates on "elevator rides" in an isolated elevator without a security camera. Inside they are beaten, the report said.

- A correctional facility inmate died of a stroke in March 2007 after officers forced his head against a wall and personnel ignored his request for medical help, the Justice Department said.

Instances of such excessive force litter the pages of the Justice Department's report. In addition, many instances of poor or altogether denied health care and unsanitary conditions led federal investigators to conclude that the jail poses "a pattern of serious harm to inmates, including death."

"We conclude that the conditions of confinement violate the constitutional rights of inmates," the report states.

Since the time of the publication of this report, it has also come to light that, according the the Erie County Comptroller, over $1,000,000 of prisoner's commissary money has been "misallocated" from the Commissary account to pay for unrelated budget items. This money is required by law to be spent on inmates welfare and rehabilitation - programs like education and reentry assistance which not only serve the prison population, but serve all of us who need the prison system to act in some way to rehabilitate prisoners, so they are not forced back into crime when they reenter society.

The Justice Department and the New York State Attorney General have since filed suit against the county over the abuse it perpetrates against its inamte population. These suits promise to cost the taxpayers of Erie County millions of dollars as a direct result of the county's practice of abuse and evading accountability. The Buffalo News reports that in simply fighting these lawsuits, the County spent over $40,000 in the month of August alone by hiring out a consulting law firm to the tune of $425 per hour.  In December, a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit was heard; a ruling is still forthcoming.

Remembering The Ones We Lost - March 2010