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NYCLU: Ending Weekend Visits at Nassau Jail Hurts Families

The New York Civil Liberties Union today urged Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi to reverse his decision to end Saturday visiting hours at the Nassau County Jail.

Suozzi this week announced the elimination of Saturday visits effective Feb. 20, characterizing the change as a budget-cutting measure. The decision comes only days after Suozzi proposed it.

“Many county jail inmates have not been convicted of a crime,” said Tara Keenan-Thomson, director of the NYCLU Nassau County Chapter. “Our system of justice is based on the principle of innocent until proven guilty. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of people who have not been convicted of any wrong-doing.”

Suozzi initiated the Saturday visiting schedule in 2002, reversing a ban on weekend visiting hours instituted when the jail was expanded in 1989. He defended that decision by saying he’d examined the issue carefully. Inmate and civil-rights advocates had long argued that the weekend ban was unfair and burdensome.

“This cold-hearted decision hurts families,” Keenan-Thomson said. “Many people cannot skip work to visit the jail on weekdays. Saturday is the only time they can visit their loved ones. Eliminating that opportunity will separate children from their parents and husbands from wives. It’s just cruel.”

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