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Inmates Sue County Over Conditions at Jail

According to inmates, conditions at Riverhead and Yaphank Jails violated constitutional rights; alleged Riverhead drug ring leader among plaintiffs.

On behalf of over 100 detainees, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Thursday in federal court against Suffolk County, claiming inhumane conditions at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead violate the constitutional rights of those detained there.

Citing a list of complaints - including overcrowding, raw sewage in sleeping areas and beyond, tainted drinking water, prolonged exposure to mold and vermin, and more - the lawsuit seeks to remedy conditions it cites as inhumane and award financial damages those exposed to the reported conditions.

“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 39-page lawsuit alleges that the detainees' eighth and 14th amendment rights were violated, saying a lack of due process was given to alleged criminals who are held at the facilities, and to those who were convicted, cruel and inhumane treatment.

County officials, having just heard of the complaint on Thursday, offered little comment. 

Chief of Staff Michael Sharkey, of the Suffolk County Sheriff's office - which runs the prisons - said Thursday afternoon he had yet to read the complaint, and referred comment to the county attorney's office.

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, spokeswoman for County Executive Steve Bellone, said that the lawsuit was currently under review and offered no comment.

In addition to the Riverhead jail, conditions at Yaphank Correctional Facility are also cited as unconstitutional.

Leading the plaintiffs is a man who, just over a year ago, was alleged by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota to be that distributed over half a kilo of cocaine a week throughout Suffolk County.

Mack Butler, 37, stands charged on 10 counts, nine of which are felonies and the top charge of which is conspiracy in the first degree, a class B felony. He is still going through pretrial hearings, according to court documents.

New York City law firm Shearman and Sterling LLP is offering its services to conduct the class action lawsuit pro bono. The NYCLU also released a video on YouTube in which a former inmate recounts his experience at Riverhead Correctional Facility, which is often used as a holding facility for those accused of serious crimes.

"Riverhead did something to me," said Jason Porter, 33, who was in jail on misdemeanor charges. "For the two months I was there, we went through horrible prison conditions ... The shower itself is disgusting. There was different types of molds and funguses growing on the shower, out and around the shower."

The lawsuit also lists Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco and Deputy Sheriffs Joseph Caracappa and John Meyerricks as defendants.

John B. April 06, 2012 at 12:23 PM
"Nobody should be forced to live in the sickening conditions that exist in the Suffolk County jails" - Nobody forced you to break the law, now that you know where you'll end up, maybe you'll stop doing things wrong.
Tom April 06, 2012 at 01:38 PM
i thought the jail was in southampton town
doug April 06, 2012 at 07:00 PM
ive been in and out of the riverhead jail for 15 yrs and the jails in suffolk have been like that for as long as i can remember yaphank just built a new jail for reasons similar to this lawsuit but lets face it suffolk is just full of shit as so are there courts and politicians i cant see much coming from this suit as long as its a you scratch my back and ill scratch yours mentality with every agency in this county
JESSICA April 11, 2012 at 07:42 PM
PEOPLE DO MAKE MISTAKES IN LIFE THAT DOESNT MEAN THEY SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE ANIMALS IN A PET STORE. SOME MAY SAY WHY SHOULD OUR TAX DOLLARS PAY FOR THEM WELL OUR TAX DOLLARS ALSO PAY THE SALERYS OF CO'S IN THESE PRISONS AND THEY DONT DO ANY WORK. MOST OF THEM TALK ON THERE CELL PHONES THEIR WHOLE SHIFT AND WHEN THEY DO WORK ALL THEY DO IS BOSS THE IMATES AROUND SO THEY CAN HAVE A POWERE TRIP.
Carole Haje April 13, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Th is is a great country because we respect the rights of all. there is no excuse for locking up those who broke the law in mold or filth.Inmates could have responsible jobsto fix what is possible. Other wise money should be directed to repair a problem like major mold.Who do you think is going to pay to treat their medical problems now or later.I agree some of the guards are on power trips are very uninformed and unjustifiably nasty.
Kasha June 05, 2012 at 12:22 AM
And correctional officers are horrible, I hope one day they will get what they deserve. It's all gonna catch up to them, someone needs to look into that because I had someone there he made a mistake is not a trouble makes was nice and polite , he asked to use the phone and co told him to f** himself, like seriously?
Kasha June 05, 2012 at 12:28 AM
And I agree with Jessica^^ people make mistakes, obviously those inmates committed a crime and they're paying for their mistakes by being in there. When you go to visit co's act like they're above God , they all come up with their own rules it's sick. We are all human and I'm not saying they need to tip toe around the inmates but there's no reason to treat people like animals especially when they're not looking for trouble , they're there to serve their time.
Jessica June 12, 2012 at 09:17 PM
It's horrible these co's sit on there ass all day until someone superior shows up and then they act as if they are doing something!! My boyfriends commissary is constantly being stolen because the guards are not watching the inmates. I go to Riverhead for a visit which is a hour drive for me and the stupids guards always make the visits shorter than a hour. Someone needs to go see what's reAlly going on nothing has been done to fix any of the issues yet!!! So those inmates are living in unsafe conditions. My boyfriend has a fungus on his feet because the shower drains are all backed up and he is forced to stand in puddle of dirty water in order to shower!!!
Johnny k June 15, 2012 at 03:33 AM
You are so out of touch. Two people died there last night. One beaten to death by c.o.,s other 23 years young was refused medical care. These are not hardened criminals .
Barbara Tice July 11, 2012 at 06:57 AM
What we seem to forget is the deporable environment that people are living in, is not just where they are living, it's where they are dying. Maybe that is what should be investigated!!
raymond bryan July 19, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I have had the horrible opportunity to reside there for three months for a dumb mistake I made five years ago.Let me tell you the corrections officers beat people with a vengeance for fun.unprovoked Ive wittnessed them smash a guys face wide open on a wall and pummel him for complaining that a officer assaulted him.then after that beating they put charges on him for assaulting a police officer to cover their crime...adding new time to his case.when i was released he started a law suite and named me as a witness..the corrections officer found me on the outside in the free world and threatened to come and see me dont know how he obtained my cell number.they are corupt one kicked and punched me and stated whats ur problem tough guy while I was only waiting on line doing no wrong so i proceeded to look at the ground and say no promblem officer because if you look at them in the eye you get a pummeling by two or more of them hancuffed!! Is this a correctional facility I THINK NOT.WHEN A FIGHT BREAKS OUT THEY WATCH AND Laugh untill someone gets serioussly hurt then they stop it!I have many examples of this hit me up if interested.
lisa July 30, 2012 at 05:48 PM
This will take years. Lisa http://yapankinmatevisit.blogspot.com/
sherrie September 09, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Not for nothing but the employees suffer too by working under these conditions. That mold can cause deadly respiratory conditions. Its not right. Also yes ppl make mistakes as well as get wrongly accused so don't forget about those innocent ppl as well as those convicted. Nobody in this world is perfect. If you've never gone to jail then u probably just were lucky for not getting caught or u have $ to get out of things. Don't leave those out who are also imprisoned for unpaid minor traffic violations. Over all it needs to be cleaned up..
anthony carroll September 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Americans were outraged with the torture at abu grabes and guantanamo. Yet i laughed for in my 8contacts months in riverhead i saw far worse on a daily basis... i cought a flesh eating bacteria never before seen by the c.d.c. fist found inside me eating my mucle and spine.. only took s month to get medical attention. Thank god it was july fourth weekend when i was about to die because a fill in medical staff was the one who decided i needed a hospital.
anthony carroll September 13, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Dr cut me open with no pain meds due to my near death state.. next they wanted to amputate my arm to stop spreading.. a lawyer was needed to stop smputation... i witnessed beatings by guards on minors str8 up asdaults. Witnessed guard molesting a minor. Watched a man hang himself and guards refusing to help they waited till he was dead. Saw the police bring a child molestor priest in to get beaten to death i think.. just before he was brought in we were told and stleast 50 guards gatherrd in window to watch the intentional murder.. my 8near months have left me permanantly disabled due to flesh eating bacteria eating my spine.. 6 herniated disc 6changer compressed and recompressed. Dislocated neck from spinal column, usualy fatal and 20u other
anthony carroll September 13, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Areas of spine wich need surgery wich all dr agree when surgery done i will never walk again.. im a nonviolent offender on a drug related charge wich sufgol county police admit in spending 1.5 million trying to build case against me not to mention court costs.. sewage often came out of sink when water yreatment chems were not added or simply ran out. Blac mold poisonous spiders wich bites blister then pop exposing bone... oh and cant forget jail rot wich. Is a rash that has spread to every comunity in america... the guards warden. And assistant warden should be locked up.. i was even awoken one night with a guard 0016 i think who was stroking my penis through the bars. Who then threatened to jave me killed when i was screaming for a supervising srg. So much to list some to horrifick to put on here..this website.. not to mention every guard is robbing jail blind they bring huge duffle bags to steal toilet paper food and any supplies taxpayers purchased... lock the place down with cameras let we the people monitor the real criminals the corectolion officers... they should be taken out to yard and shot... u can find the guards at hooters near jail every night.. so much more
lakia October 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
This is unreal, suffolk county is full of disgrace and God will be the last Judge, my bf got an 10,000 dollar bail for burglary, no weapons and no intent to hurt anyone, while a child molester got 25000 bail for raping a 12 year old girl over 3 years violently beating her and threatening her, Suffolk County is the worst place I ever lived these conditions are disgusting and need to be stopped!!
coachlady November 22, 2012 at 01:09 AM
My son is incarcerated in yaphank and I was told by riverhead jail the hours to drop off money plus by somebody who works there but yet I get there and this guard makes up her own hours and I was not able to put money on his books and now being its a holiday, I can't do anything until Friday:( I once was a correction officer in a jail for virginia although they were not treated like kings n queens, they were still treated like they were human!!! I sure hope my son learns his lesson and grows up within these few months he has to do.......I wonder if it were one of their family members, how would they b treated!!!!!!!
Danielle December 07, 2012 at 08:09 PM
It doesn't matter if the prison guards 'Don't do any work' that's their bosses job to enforce not yours to whine about. These people commited a crime and are bound by law to suffer the consequences of their 'mistake'. Our tax dollars are absolutely wasted on these people who can receive such luxeries as television, cigarettes, and even an education while they are incarcerated. It's beyond rediculous that yound adults are working hard to get into college and getting loans and criminals can receive an eduaction too. If the criminals that are in prison don't want such a horrible life they shouldn't commit crimes.
Jacko February 02, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I spent 10 days in the Riverhead jail. What a horrible place. And the ironic part is, I was expecting problems from fellow prisoners. I had none. My problem daily was avoiding the nazi like Correction officers who were only looking to give a beatdown. I witnessed two during my 10 day stay and it was horrific. Since the jail was over crowded, i was housed in a pod where the bed was in the common area. I witnessed a correction officer getting oral sex from one inmate for extra food just two bunks away. This is a sick place not cause of the criminals housed here but by the people working there. It's bad news.
Jacko February 02, 2013 at 04:48 PM
and forget about Yaphank. The pet name for that facility is "Gladiator school" amongst the inmates. Cause its dorm style housing, the only way to survive is to fight because as soon as the lights are shut off for bedtime, it becomes every man for himself. The guards just sit and watch and laugh as people are jumped and beaten or raped. This is some serious bad stuff going on there. I moved from NY for fear of getting into trouble and revising these places. and if you are wondering, I haven't had any legal issues since leaving NY and in NY i had them coming out my ears.
G March 23, 2013 at 11:32 PM
That place is a cesspool of filth and no matter WHO you are, no one should have to live under those conditions. It is utterly disgusting and the worst people I've ever had to deal with in my life are in charge there.
G March 24, 2013 at 12:15 AM
There are no big screen HD TV's with showtime, just a regular TV to be shared and they have no choice as to when they can watch it. They are subjected to the moods of the sadistic CO's and if you look at one of them wrong, ANY privilege can be taken away at a whim. The water is brown and inmates are not given an option to purchase clean bottled water. There is sewage oozing out of drains and sinks. And it certainly DOES matter if the are doing their jobs, they get paid to do them and THEY are paid with tax dollars as well. Everyone has to answer to someone and just because they wear a badge doesn't give them the right to degrade or abuse inmates OR their law abiding, taxpaying families that visit them, but they DO. On that note they really need to give them psychological testing as well because most of them are emotional trainwrecks that displace their anger on the inmates and their families. In all fairness there may be 1 or 2 decent ones in both facilities that don't fit this description. On a last note, how much TAX do YOU actually pay anyway? Based on your blatantly obvious lack of education and insight I highly doubt you have a rewarding career that would pay a salary high enough to make you ineligible for EIC so therefore you really DON'T PAY anything. You probably are a leech too. You are the epitome of ignorance.
G March 24, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Hey Danielle, get a f***king clue. First of all, there isn't anything luxurious about either Yaphank or Riverhead correctional facilities. Second of all, there are many inmates that are incarcerated while their case is pending so technically they haven't been convicted of a crime yet, just accused. Thirdly, some these college kids you refer to are just as bad if not worse than the "filth" you judge so carelessly. As a matter of fact, some of those college kids ARE inmates. Also many kids get a secondary education for free as well, Ever hear of scholarships? Who do you think pays for those? The public tax dollars. It appears that you could have done well with some education yourself as your spelling is atrocious and you write like a 12 year old.You know what's scary? People like YOU have a right to vote. If you knew ANYTHING about Suffolk County correctional facilities you would know that not only does no one GIVE cigarettes to inmates(at 12.00 a pack, lmao) but they are forbidden to smoke there. CONTINUED BELOW
G March 24, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Seriously, it gets even worse than that.
G March 24, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Absolutely!
G March 24, 2013 at 12:27 AM
I have no pity for the employees there. They are wicked. Even the medical staff is corrupt and obnoxious. I have never seen more vicious people in my life and I've been around some serious "criminals"
G March 24, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Jesus Christ!
G March 24, 2013 at 12:30 AM
What amazes me is that this shit still goes on. The victims of these atrocities need to come together and stick together and take this to Washington DC if necessary to stop this insanity! We do not live in a third world country. Maybe someone should contact the media?
G March 24, 2013 at 12:35 AM
I agree, I can't believe the shit that goes on, it happened to me today as a matter of fact. Pure vermin run that place. The real nuts are running that asylum.

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