Myles Carter, the articulate young activist and former candidate for Erie County Sheriff, called a press conference on Sunday at the Erie County Holding Center to denounce the latest example of human rights violations at the facility : no hot water for two years in many of the dorms and at least since January for those housed in Echo Dorm.
After receiving a phone call from a disabled inmate on October 7, Carter immediately notified general management and reached out to the correctional oversight committee as well as the Muslim Chaplain at the Holding Center.
“Within an hour I received response that they were aware of the outage and that they were transporting prisoners to unaffected areas to shower.”
Then on October I6th he received a letter complaining that Echo Dorm had not had hot water since January.
“The letter was signed by 10 prisoners and made reference to multiple complaints that have been filed and closed.”
The letter was forwarded to the Erie County Jail oversight committee in which a complaint was filed with the NYS Commission of Corrections on October 25, 2021.
Based on research conducted by oversight committee they concluded lack of hot water was due to one failing boiler, further stating that the responsibility of the boiler falls under division of buildings and grounds.
“The Sheriff’s department has $126 million budget for 2021 and requesting a $16.6 million increase for 2022 – that’s roughly a 13% increase with no plans to restore the human rights that are being violated here at the holding center,” said Carter.
“Our demand is that the Erie county legislature act immediately and deny the budget for 2022 until a plan and action is put forward to restore the hot water and that a tangible work around is put in place with direct supervision by the oversight committee until the hot water is restored. And we need oversight of that work thru the Erie County oversight committee for the jails.”
“I just don’t think it’s their priority to make sure these inmates have basic needs,” charged Shaimaa Aakil who shared her own personal experience at the Holding Center as a teen. “ They’re simply not prioritizing the safety of the inmates. We’ve seen that in the last 32 deaths” she continued, referencing the number of deaths which have occurred under Sheriff Timothy Howard’s tenure. “It’s consistent, constant behavior of this toxic culture of prioritizing their own … over the lives of these residents of our city who are innocent until proven guilty.”
“Is it this hard to get them to fix a boiler?”
Myles and several others addressed legislative hearing on the county budget on Monday where they made their demands plain.
“The sheriff is an executive position and really the only way you can provide any type of checks and balance on the sheriff is through the budgeting process. That’s the only power that the legislators and county executive have to provide any kind of check or balance.”
It all comes down to, he said, an “issue of mismanagement and a waste of resources.”