The Criminal Justice System plays a crucial role in upholding its ultimate promise: To ensure the release of ‘rehabilitated’ alleged offenders back into society. Here’s the problem: How can a man dedicate his efforts to reforming himself if his struggle on the streets isn’t only misunderstood by the appointed reformers, his basic human rights are being denied too?
“This jail [NCC] has a long history of abuse of inmates. You have innocent, defenseless, disabled people waiting here for beds in hospitals, merely because they had a seizure and were mistaken to be intoxicated or uncooperative.” -Mary Jerone, 05.22.13
These are the very issues sparking human rights activists to speak out against what’s reported to be going down behind the prison walls of Nassau County Correctional Facility — a jail housing a combined 80% of Black and Latino inmates. Though they may be minorities, they are NCC’s inmate majority — who, for the most part, hail from New York City ghettos. In short, the odds of these men being locked up have been largely stacked against them from the jump.
”A lot of us here have done some of the things you guys have done — the difference is, we knew when to stop.’‘ – Reginald Stroughn, Hempstead HS Principal, addressing L.I. youth
That’s exactly why community activists are calling on Angel Rios to head what they insist is the ‘critical change needed’ at Nassau County Correctional Facility — pointing to Rios’ revered reputation within the Freeport PD as the department’s Chaplain, his proactive efforts on the streets, his professions to troubled youth and gang members, and his recognition from The Latino African American Chaplin Association — as proof he’s the man to lead Nassau County’s Prison Reform program.
According to NYSSA, “The mission of the Correction Division is to provide a safe and secure environment for the staff and inmates, while providing for the care, custody, and control of detainees and prisoners committed to its custody by the judiciary.” As it stands, that’s a statement that seems to be nothing more than … well, a statement. Records reveal … Since the establishment of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department four officers have died in the line of duty. Of those four, two died in car crashes. Now let’s compare Nassau County recorded number of officer deaths to inmate deaths. In 2010 — within that year alone — five inmates are reported to have died behind Nassau County Jail walls. Sources say … since then, the inmate death toll has ‘continued to rise.’
In August 2011, Nassau County appointed Michael J. Sposato to the Sheriff’s seat. Shortly after he took office, Sheriff Sposato was court-ordered to immediately release Rashaad Peterson — a man whose alleged parole violation was vacated. This, just before reports revealed a 44-year-old bipolar inmate, Darryl Woody, was denied his psychiatric medication — leading Woody to hang himself in his cell on Jan. 3, 2011; a 33-year-old inmate, said to be ‘on suicide watch’ hung himself in his cell on Feb. 24, 2012; inmate Roy C. Nordstrom, 46, complained “of feeling ill” just hours before going into fatal cardiac arrest in his cell on Nov. 11, 2011; and a 26-year-old Long Beach man died from ‘contusions suffered during an altercation with another inmate on Jan. 7, 2012.
“These people in jail have civil rights, and they should be protected. They’re human beings just like us.” – Douglas Mayers NAACP
According to Justice and Prisons … Prison services need to line with ministries in order to have a clear understanding of the ‘stock and flow’ of the prison population. Furthermore, sentence planning and the provision of appropriate services, educational, recreational, health and legal are very much more likely to happen where reception and record procedures are sound, sustained and used efficiently.” Human rights advocates are certain Rios’ hand to God wouldn’t just be a jewel to Nassau County Jail — if appointed Nassau County Sheriff, Angel Rios would be the first Minority to fill the position in over 22-years.
Edited By: Michele Fralick, Journalist/Human Rights Advocate