The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the Nassau County Correctional Center over the recent suicide of Iraqi war veteran Bartholomew Ryan. There have been five inmate suicides at the Nassau jail in the past two years. Other recent inmate suicides at the facility include Herve Jeanot, Gasparino Godino, Eamon McGinn, and Daryl Woody.
According to the lawsuit, problems at the jail are systemic. The NYCLU claims that there have been two hundred inmate complaints recently at the jail, including claims about not receiving prescription medicines and of handicapped inmates being denied access to their wheelchairs.
The suit claims that although the Nassau County Charter provides for a Board of Visitors to address prisoner complaints for the past twenty years, the board positions have remained vacant. The Corrections Department has countered by claiming that sufficient safeguards and oversights are in place.
Over the years, the Nassau County Jail has faced allegations and a lawsuit involving alleged civil rights abuse. In 1999, three correction officers were charged with beating inmate Thomas Pizzuto. He died from his injuries. Pizzuto’s relatives received a $7.75 million civil settlement from the county. The prison guards were convicted and received prison sentences.
This incident precipitated federal oversight of the jail.
In 2009, jail guard Mark Barber was accused of extorting sex from female inmates at the Nassau jail.
The facility has also had prior issues with overcrowding, abuse, health care availability, and mental care.