Erie County Sheriff to speak on proposed advisory board for holding center and correction facility

Public hearing scheduled for tonight

Mike Baggerman
June 13, 2019 - 3:00 am

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard. February 7, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard will formally address the Erie County Legislature on Thursday about the proposed Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board.

He said he embraces the concept of an advisory board that is focused on making improvements and not one that just criticizes them and fosters someone's ability to bring forth a lawsuit.

"I will make my position very clear," Howard said. "If you have seen the more recent version, it focuses on mental health. We have long argued, and in fact the Department of Justice is equally focused on mental health and medical treatment of inmates and gotten away from the false allegations of inappropriate use of force. If this advisory board gets the focus on the hurdles that we need to get over in order to make improvements, I embrace it."

Howard did not discuss the topic in committee meetings two weeks ago because he was not formally invited by the Erie County Legislature. He has since written a letter saying he will be available on Thursday.

Erie County Legislator April Baskin, who introduced the bill, wrote that the advisory board is intended to focus on restorative justice, serve as a bridge between the community and county departments, and it will enhance the safety and conditions of the holding center and correctional facility.

"Its mission will be to bring leaders and professionals in our community together to help monitor and improve County's correctional facilities, improve the lives of those who have left correctional facilities and reduce recidivism and help with re-entry to society, and work together for solutions to problems while continually looking for ways to improve internal operations and procedures in the correction facilities."

The advisory board would consist of 11 voting members including one representative each from the Chair of the Erie County Legislature, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, County Executive, Sheriff, Commissioner of Probation, Commissioner of Mental Health, Bar Association, and a total of three people who represent prisoner rights advocates, restorative justice groups, and a former prisoner who helped other prisoners transition back into the free world. Each of the board members would serve a three-year term with no member serving no more than two consecutive terms, though they can return to the board after a two-year absence.

A similar advisory board was created in 2010, though that group has not met since 2013. This advisory board would be required to meet at least four times per year.

The Erie County Legislature will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday on the advisory board.

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