Legislature, Sheriff's Office spar over inmate care

Nov 1, 2019

A combative day in the chambers of the Erie County Legislature regarding inmate care in county jails. Four inmates have died in county jails in the past 6 weeks and Sheriff Timothy Howard believes his office is being unfairly attacked by the public despite the Sheriff’s office being in compliance with recommendations from the Department of Justice.

Credit thomas

“To the County Executive, he may not have been County Executive when these problems first personified themselves,” he said. “They’re now his to fix.”

Howard said County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s jurisdiction over the Department of Mental Health continues to escape reproach by not conforming the DOJ standards.

Minority Leader Joe Lorigo lamented the partisanship of the proceedings and says the legislative body is trying to find common ground with both county entities.

Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

“And it’s not even that we’re looking to criticize them.” He said. “It’s that we’re looking for answers as to why they’re not in compliance, and what we as legislators can do to help them get in compliance.”

Part of finding the common ground is the inception of an advisory board to address problems in the Sheriff’s Office. Lorigo said appointments to said board have dragged on in hearings and a full board has to be approved.