Erie County Holding Center

Thomas O'Neil-White

Anna Howard is seeking answers for the death her son, Mikey Frears.

“I just want justice for my son,” she said.

By the account of friends and family, Frears was a physically healthy man of 27. How he ended up dead last week inside the Erie County Holding Center has Howard and other friends and family seeking answers.

Being late for a meeting with a parole officer, missing curfew, using drugs or alcohol. Those are all non-criminal acts that can land a parolee back behind bars.

And sending them there costs Erie County $10 million a year, according to study a by New Yorkers United for Justice, a bipartisan criminal justice reform group.

File Photo / WBFO News

How to spend Erie County's money was up to the public Monday evening, in an annual ritual of the county budget process.

Members of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Legislature met Tuesday to discuss the possibility of consolidating the local jails.

WBFO's Eileen Buckley

The Erie County Sheriff’s Department proposed a plan to the County Legislature to consolidate the area’s jails at a meeting on Tuesday. However, it could be years until it comes to fruition.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Protesters continued a takeover of Niagara Square Sunday, as they pushed for the release of Deyanna Davis from the Erie County Holding Center.

Nick Lippa / WBFO

Protesters gathered around City Hall and the Erie County Holding Center Monday night calling for the release of Deyanna Davis, the driver of the vehicle that crashed into police on Bailey Avenue last week.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

With news that two Erie County jail deputy sheriffs have tested positive for COVID-19, inmate rights advocates circled the Holding Center on Tuesday, beeping car horns and seeking prisoner releases.

File Photo / WBFO News

An employee at the Erie County Holding Center has tested positive for the coronavirus. In a time where social distancing is key in curbing the spread, how practical is that behind bars?

Mike Desmond

The Erie County Sheriff's Department is grappling with the case of a man apprehended Wednesday by Customs at the Peace Bridge on his return from China. "We are taking these measures," said Public Information Officer Scott Zylka regarding the man who was taken from the Peace Bridge to the Holding Center.  "If things again turn the wrong way, it could become a bigger incident than it already is."

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Newly-re-elected Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin said there is a lot for legislators to do this year and she hopes they can work together after a rough election campaign.

Thomas O'Neil-White

Starting Jan. 1, cash bail and pre-trial detention will be eliminated for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies in New York State. That change has left local criminal justice reform advocates rejoicing and law enforcement officials crying foul.

Jewett Medley
Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

A new reentry program called Project Blue is a first-of-its-kind partnership to help formerly incarcerated individuals in Erie County transition back into society.

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.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

The Erie County Holding Center inmate who deputies say hanged himself Friday has died at a local hospital. Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin confirmed the inmate was Robert Ingalsbe.


The Erie County Sheriff's office is investigating another inmate suicide attempt in the County Holding Center.

Mike Desmond/WBFO

In the wake of two more deaths in the Erie County Holding Center, dozens of protestors from an array of groups were outside the facility Monday. Connell Burrell's death on Friday was the 26th since Sheriff Tim Howard took office in 2005.

Erie County Sheriff's Department

The Erie County Legislature held a public hearing Thursday evening, but not a single speaker showed up. That was unexpected, because the hearing revolved around the plan for a Corrections Advisory Board, which has been controverial.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Three years ago, 27-year-old India Cummings was at the Erie County Holding Center facing carjacking and other charges. After more than two weeks in custody, she was taken to two successive hospitals and died on Feb. 21, 2016. To memorialize that anniversary, supporters of Cummings are are holding daily protests outside the Holding Center.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The family of India Cummings has filed a new lawsuit against 72 sheriff's deputies at the Erie County Holding Center.

File Photo / WBFO News

New York State should slash the number of people who are held after arrest because they can't come up with cash bail. That is the message the Erie County Legislature sent to Albany Thursday.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

After several years of talk about the death of Erie County Holding Center inmate India Cummings, local officials are hoping for definitive answers from a new investigation begun by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood.

Media pool photo from 2010 tour of Erie County Holding Center

The 2016 death of 27-year-old India Cummings has raised many questions about the care of inmates at the Erie County Holding Center.  As part of our Mental Health Initiative, WBFO’s senior reporter Eileen Buckley finds out how inmates are screened for mental health while held at the jail.


As the lawsuit for the death of India Cummings enters the discovery phase, more details are expected to become public about what a state Commission of Correction report calls a "homicide due to medical neglect."


With the India Cummings death shifting toward a criminal investigation, a crowd turned out Thursday night in the Delavan Grider Community Center to discuss the case.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The public fight over the 2016 death of India Cummings moved to the steps of City Hall Thursday, as activists increase their calls for criminal prosecutions.

A state review board has issued a report on the death of India Cummings, who died at ECMC following her incarceration at the Erie County Holding Center. Ann Venuto, president of the Buffalo & Erie Co. chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, read the report. She says the Cummings case is another example of how most jails are not equipped to care for the mentally ill.

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

The death of 27-year-old India Cummings after more than two weeks at the Erie County Holding Center in 2016 was in the spotlight at County Hall on Wednesday, with criticism of the care and treatment of inmates there taking center stage.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

For two-and-a-half years, the death of India Cummings has  raised questions. Cummings died after spending 17 days at the Erie County Holding Center. Thursday brought another protest outside the Holding Center, in the wake of a state report that said homicide should be listed as the woman's cause of death.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader April Baskin will hold a special session of the Public Safety Committee on Wednesday to review, line by line, the State Commission of Correction's Medical Review Board report on the death of India Cummings.