NY Civil Liberties Union charges Suffolk jails are ‘deplorable’

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County Jail in Riverside.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a class action lawsuit against Suffolk County, accusing the county of “deplorable” conditions at its two jails in Riverside and Yaphank, the civil rights group announced Thursday.

“Nobody should be forced to live in the sickening conditions that exist in the Suffolk County jails,” said Amol Sinha, director of the NYCLU’s Suffolk County chapter. “Raw sewage bubbles from floor drains, rodents and roaches infest the kitchens, black mold covers the showers – it shocks the conscience.

“That county officials have allowed such horrendous conditions to persist for years is simply shameful.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Central Islip on behalf of a handful of current and former inmates, NYCLU officials said.

It argues that the conditions at the jails violates people’s constitutional rights.

Plaintiffs named in the suit include: Mack Butler, 37, detained at Riverhead Correctional Facility and has been awaiting trial since January 2011; Dashaun Sims, 23, detained in Riverhead since May 2010 and is awaiting sentencing; Clyde Lofton, 26, detained at Yaphank Correctional Facility since September 2011 and is awaiting trial; Paul Alver, 21, detained in Yaphank since September 2011 and is currently serving a sentence for a non-violent crime; Kevin King, 27, detained in Riverhead from January 2011 until early April 2012.

As a result of their confinement and exposure to the conditions at the county jails, the plaintiffs have suffered “intestinal illnesses, skin conditions, respiratory infections, fungal infections, nose bleeds, headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness,” according to the complaint.

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone, said only that Mr. Bellone is currently reviewing the lawsuit.

Suffolk County Sheriff’s Chief Michael Sharkey and county Legislator Jay Schneiderman, whose district includes the Riverside jail in Southampton Town, also declined to comment. Mr. Schneiderman said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit.

Scroll down to read the complaint.

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New York Civil Liberties Union complaint against Suffolk County regarding jails