A part of Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier’s mission is to end jail expansion in Broome County, New York. Jailing plays a prominent role in the county, serving as a center for unjust practices in law enforcement, with the BC Jail being the dumping ground for those with substance use disorders, the poor who can’t afford bail, and persons with health and mental disabilities. Support services and jail information/documentation is located on our Support Groups page.
Too Many Deaths! Take the case of Salladin Barton, a 35 year-old African American man who died in January 2015 in Broome County jail while waiting for two years for his trial. He died from untreated pneumonia and from being prescribed two drugs, Artane and Prolixin, that should not have been taken together. He was also beaten by correction officers a day before his death. He had been held for 19 months awaiting trial – he had not been convicted of a crime. In 2011 Alvin Rios died in the jail, under terrible circumstances condemned by a state investigation–leading to a $65,000 settlement against the county and its medical provider. And in October 2016 another unexplained death took place: Kevin Connell, 34, died while waiting for his trial–leaving us after being held for two years on high bail. There are too many deaths, and too many questions about the privatized medical care provider.
Too many questions remain unanswered:
Why are so many of our friends and family in jail?
Crime has been falling in Broome County for 20 years. But the jail population has increased by over 30% in recent years. Why?
Less than 25% of the persons in the county jail are convicted and serving sentences. When people are locked up they lose jobs and homes. Families are broken up. Do we need to incarcerate all these people?
In the last ten years, African-Americans have been about 5% of the population locally. But they have been 30% of the people incarcerated. Why?
Why are we funding more costly jailing and policing to solve the drug epidemic and the mental health crisis?
Local officials have estimated that 80-85% of those in the jail have addiction problems.
Is jail a solution to addiction? Why have so many local parents protested that their children can’t find treatment, and only incarceration?
Broome County has spent $7 million to expand the jail and (with the City of Binghamton) to increase the number of police and correctional officers. Thirteen new jail officers were added to the county budget in 2016 alone–and yet the county has closed the mental health center and addiction services are very hard to find. Broome county’s health now ranks 56th in the state out of 62 counties after many county cuts. Why?
Many alternative programs to jail are being developed—why not here?
Why are so many left in jail, due to high bails? Can we promote a community bail fund? Or pre-trial assessments and release on recognizance for those accused of minor, non-violent offences?
Broome County has spent $7 million to expand the jail and (with the City of Binghamton) to increase the number of police and correctional officers. Thirteen new jail officers were added to the county budget in 2016 alone–and yet the county has closed the mental health center and addiction services are very hard to find. Broome county’s health now ranks 56th in the state out of 62 counties counties after many county cuts. Why?
Why can’t we treat addiction through treatment centers, rather than incarceration which often returns addicts to the community untreated?
Why do we have such poor health services in the jail, and too many unexplained deaths in jail?
Can we fund community health services once again, a much cheaper option than jail?
Reentry? Many return to the community from time in jail or in state prisons, and need assistance transitioning to safe, community life. Why can’t we provide better, peer reentry services? Can we help dismantle barriers to employment, housing and social services for those formerly incarcerated?
Change can happen!
– In the last ten years, the state prison population fell by over 25% and New York City’s jail population fell by 10,000 people. Crime has not gone up in the City or the state as a whole. Why can’t we do the same thing in Broome County?