Attorney Shaqurah Zachery, a candidate for the New York State 63rd Senatorial District, has called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to remove Sheriff Tim Howard from office immediately.
“We have all heard the heart-breaking reports of citizens dying while in the custody of the Erie County Holding Center, under the watch of Sheriff Tim Howard,” she wrote in an open letter. “To date, there have been 24 deaths at the Erie County Holding Center,” she continued. “Under the laws of our nation and state, individuals being held at the Holding Center are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
We also need to recognize that regardless of a person’s guilt or innocence there are protections that our Constitution provides our citizens. In many instances inmates that are being held in the Holding Center are there because they cannot afford bail, often on small misdemeanor charges. “I believe it is time to take action. Therefore, I am calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to exercise his gubernatorial authority and take action to remove Sheriff Tim Howard from office immediately before any more deaths take place.”
In February of this year the State Commission of Correction deemed the Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility among the state’s five worst lockups. Last week the Commission of Corrections Medical Review Board, in a final report of the death of India Cummings, said her death should be called a homicide because of medical neglect.
The Commission blamed “grossly incompetent” care she received during a physical, mental decline as she laid on the floor of her cell in a puddle of her urine. The agency said Cummings could have survived with “adequate and appropriate medical and mental health care.” Cummings, age 27, died in February 2016 after 17 days in the Erie County Holding Center.
She was the 21st inmate to die in Erie County lockup since Howard became sheriff in 2005. The list to date has risen to 24. “My opponent, in the upcoming Democratic Primary, Senator Tim Kennedy has the endorsement of the party bosses” said Zachery. “ However, he has remained absolutely silent while these abuses and deaths at the Holding Center have taken place.”