Judge Orders Nassau County to Appoint Jail Oversight Board

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April 4, 2013 — A State Supreme Court justice has ordered Nassau County to comply with a 23-year-old unfulfilled charter mandate to establish an independent board charged with overseeing and reforming conditions at the Nassau County Correctional Center, where county officials have for years failed to meet their obligation to provide prisoners adequate medical and mental health care.

The ruling was issued late Wednesday in Marone v. Nassau County, a New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking to compel the county to fulfill its duty to appoint the Board of Visitors, an independent oversight committee that has never fully operated since being established in 1990. The County Charter authorizes the seven-member committee to respond to inmate grievances and advise the sheriff on programs that would improve the care and treatment of people housed at the jail.

"More than 20 years after Nassau County voters overwhelmingly approved this charter amendment, there will finally be much-needed oversight at the jail," said Jason E. Starr, director of the NYCLU's Nassau County Chapter. "Now it is up to County Executive Edward Mangano to follow the letter and the spirit of the charter mandate by appointing seven people to the Board of Visitors who possess the independence and expertise to effectively oversee the jail and who reflect our community’s diversity."

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Meet Jason Starr, the New Nassau County Chapter Director

I am pleased to introduce myself as the new director of the Nassau County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Over the past month, I have enjoyed learning about the rich history of the Nassau County Chapter and the groundbreaking work that we have done over the past 50 years to guard the fundamental liberties ensured to us by our federal and state constitutions.

Surely, there is still much work to be done. From alarming intrusions into our personal privacy in the name of national security to racial and ethnic discrimination dressed in the guise of proactive policing, individuals and groups with the least amount of resources and political power continue to be marginalized by our state, local and federal governments. And as innovation presents contemporary wrinkles to centuries-old civil liberties issues, the chapter is poised to respond with creative and intelligent solutions. Currently, we are addressing the serious health and safety concerns in the county jails, fighting local and federal anti-immigrant legislation affecting the lives of thousands of county residents, and partnering with community leaders to create programs that make Nassau County a more welcoming place for all of our residents.

With its highly diverse population, our county presents both incredible challenges and exciting opportunities. We have seen our advocacy efforts lead to important victories, yet we recognize that there are so many more battles to be fought and won. I invite your active participation in helping the chapter shape its priorities and keeping us informed about the state of civil liberties in our region. Let's keep working toward "a more perfect Union."
 

NYCLU Sues Nassau County to Establish Jail Oversight Board

In November, the NYCLU and our allies held a rally to demand better conditions in the Nassau County jail.

March 21, 2012 – Following the recent suicide of an Iraq war veteran housed at the Nassau County Correctional Center – the fifth inmate suicide in less than two years – the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit to compel county officials to comply with a 22-year-old unfulfilled charter mandate to establish an independent board charged with overseeing and reforming conditions at the jail.

“Tragically, a stay at the Nassau County Jail can become a death sentence for the 11,000 people a year who are housed there awaiting trial or serving time for minor offenses,” said Samantha Fredrickson, director of the NYCLU’s Nassau County Chapter. “Since Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has turned a blind eye to this disturbing reality, we have no choice but to ask the court to compel the county to take this initial step toward finally treating people housed at the jail with basic human dignity.”

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Chapter Presses Nassau County to Improve Jail Oversight

The Nassau County Chapter and our coalition partners rallied in front of the Nassau County Legislative Building on Monday to urge the County to restore a legally required oversight committee at the county jail.

Five inmates have died at the Nassau Jail since Jan, 2010 and the number of inmates complaining about inadequate medical and mental health care has skyrocketed. A charter-mandated oversight committee, called the Board of Visitors, has never formally operated, though it is badly needed.

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Following the DREAM: Practical Suggestions for Working with Immigrant Students

On October 27 more than 30 educators from across Long Island packed the Christ Church of Oyster Bay to discuss immigrants’ rights in the classroom.

Teachers, administrators and social workers shared their concerns and suggestions about working with immigrant students. The educators received guidance on how to teach students about immigrants’ rights and how to encourage tolerance toward immigrants.

Liz Marcuci and Rachel Baskin from the American Immigration Lawyers Association gave a rundown on basic immigration law and the difficulty of immigrating to the United States. Nassau Chapter Director Samantha Fredrickson addressed the Dignity Act, a new anti-bullying law, and the constitutional rights of immigrants. Maria Contreras, an immigrants’ rights advocate, guided teachers in how to work with immigrant students during the transition from high school to college.

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Advocates Urge Nassau Legislature to Restore Jail Oversight Committee

October 17, 2011 -- A coalition of inmate advocates and civil rights groups today urged the Nassau County Legislature to restore a long-dormant oversight committee to address inadequate medical and mental health services at the Nassau County Correctional Center. The committee, the Board of Visitors, is mandated by the County Charter, but apparently it has never fully operated since being established in 1990. The charter authorizes the seven-member committee to respond to inmate grievances and advise the sheriff on programs that would improve the care and treatment of people housed at the jail.

“The county is not meeting its constitutional obligation to ensure safe and humane conditions at the jail,” said Samantha Fredrickson, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Nassau County Chapter. “The Board of Visitors would provide badly needed oversight and help ensure that people housed at the jail are receiving the health care they need.”

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