Category Archives: Uncategorized

Questions for the County (February 11, 2017)

From our Facebook page

Two more deaths in the county jail have been discovered through a freedom of information request with the state, bring the total to 7, with six since June 2013. This includes 3 black men, one Latino, two white persons, and one French Canadian. What is the Sheriff hiding?

Broome County is about to transfer funds for personnel from the health department to the DA’s welfare fraud office that already has it seems six investigators. We will need to expand the jail. This is a continuous story: close down health services, cut funding for Willow Point nursing home, and invest in yet more incarceration. Is it true that this is being done behind closed doors, with no public comment at committee or county meetings? What is the County hiding?

In recent public appearances Binghamton Mayor Richard David has proudly spoken, with numbers, of efforts to hire a more diverse city staff. Why will the County not reveal its employment profile, particularly at the Jail? What is the Sheriff hiding?

 

Vigil & Action Plan Jan 28 2pm

A Jail Sentence Shouldn’t be a Death Sentence

 

Too many have died. Far too many have been abused. Come join us. Remember those we have lost. End Mass Incarceration. Plan for a more just Broome County.

Vigil and Call to Action

Saturday January 28th, 2pm

Outside Broome County Office Building

 

In 2001 Alvin Rios died of medical neglect in Broome County Jail—which came to light only after a state investigation and the county lost a lawsuit.  In 2015, Salladin Barton died due to medical maltreatment; another lawsuit is in progress. Since then 3 more deaths, hidden by the County Jail, have been discovered.  Accounts of abuse and maltreatment abound for the hundreds of innocent persons who linger in the jail.  Come and join JUST and many community organizations to remember those lost and unjustly suffering—and plan for justice.

Sponsored by Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier

www.justiceST.com facebook: Justice-and-Unity-for-the-Southern-Tier-JUST

Price Op-Ed: Broome Jail Deaths

Josh Price, “Broome jail needs transparency on deaths,” Press and Sun Bulletin November 11, 2016.

harder-press-sunBroome County Sheriff David Harder needs to come clean about how and why so many people have died at the jail over the past two years.

He and his administration have blocked efforts by the press, families or community advocates to learn any details. Who was responsible? We need transparency and accountability.

News sources reported recently that there have been three deaths in the past year at the county jail. But according to the New York Commission of Correction, four men have died at the Broome County Jail since January 2015. These men have names: Salladin Barton (Jan. 14, 2015), Vachon Denis (Nov. 1, 2015), Kevin Carroll (Sept. 30, 2016) and Kenneth Richard Gunmoe (Oct. 22, 2016). Barton and Carroll had been waiting in jail for their day in court for more than a year. Since they had not been found guilty of anything, they were legally innocent.

Recently, Press & Sun reporter Hannah Schwarz asked Sheriff Harder if the jail planned to make any policy changes in response to two recent deaths at the Broome County Jail. “There’s no reason to,” he said. This bold defiance reveals an utter disavowal of any institutional responsibility for the mounting death count, not to mention a profound lack of sympathy or human compassion for the bereaved. The awful health care and disregard for human life represent a long-standing pattern.

I should know. In cooperation with the Broome/Tioga NAACP, I undertook an investigation of health care at the jail from 2004 to 2007. We interviewed people facing physical and mental health issues. It wasn’t only the medical unit that was responsible for poor health care, I discovered, but the entire institution. From unclean water and unhygienic conditions, to poor heating, lackadaisical (or outright abusive) corrections officers, the problems were systematic.

As part of an NAACP delegation, we met with Sheriff Harder and jail administrator Mark Smolinsky several times. In each case, we were assured that there was no problem with health care delivery and that everything was fine.

Things are not fine. And they may be getting worse. In another death at the jail in 2011, the State Commission of Correction found that Alvin Rios died due to negligence by the jail’s medical provider, the for-profit company Correctional Medical Care (CMC). According to the report, Mr. Rios was “laying face down and shaking” while medical and jail staff did nothing. The county settled with the family for $62,000.

Since Salladin Barton died in solitary confinement in 2015, I have spoken with his family dozens of times. They are desperate for information about Salladin, a mentally ill man who had filed request after request for medical treatment.

The county executive and county legislature, and the district attorney’s office have given the sheriff a free pass.

It’s up to us. We all deserve information about Salladin. And Kevin. And Kenneth. And Vachon. It is in our public interest to know how and why they died. Sheriff Harder’s intransigence poses a significant ongoing hazard.

Joshua M. Price is a professor in the Department of Sociology at Binghamton University.