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Sheriff Howard requested at next County Legislature meeting

Thomas O'Neil-White

On the heels of another inmate death at an Erie County jail, County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin requested by letter, the attendance of County Sheriff Timothy Howard at the next Public Safety meeting on October 31st, which will center on continued improvements of county jails. Four inmates have died in the custody of the county in the last month. Since 2005, when Howard became Sheriff, 28 inmates have died.

Erie County Legislative Minority Leader Joe Lorigo said personal egos and finger pointing need to be put aside at the next meeting.

“I would like to see a real, common sense, transparent discussion,” he said. “Where we put personal animosities and politics aside and do what’s best for the people that we serve.”

Despite the bad press the county jails are receiving currently, Lorigo said they have been in compliance with Department of Justice recommendations after the latter filed a lawsuit against the county in 2009 to improve conditions in its jails.

Lorigo said moving forward, more oversight will lead to more transparency.

“We should get the Corrections Advisory Board up and running, hopefully very soon,” he said. “We have some good appointments there and they can begin to work together to better the situation for everyone.”

Also requested to attend the next legislative meeting is Thomas Diina, Jail Management Superintendent. The letter from the Chairwoman specifically mentioned what measure are being taken to prevent suicides and dealing with inmates who are detoxing from hard drugs.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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