A group of around a dozen protesters gathered outside the Erie County Holding Center on Sunday afternoon to denounce the “inhuman treatment” of inmates at the center.
Ten current inmates, all housed in the same unit, say they have been without hot water in their showers and bathrooms for at least 11 months. A handwritten letter signed by inmates, dated October 6 and shared with The Buffalo News on Sunday, said they had filed several complaints about the plumbing issues over several months.
A sheriff’s department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In talks with attorneys, the department has accused a broken boiler and alleged that inmates will be moved to other functioning toilets as needed, said Myles Carter, the former district sheriff’s candidate who organized the protest on Sunday.
However, protesters said they view the lack of hot water as part of a larger pattern of behavior. Since 2006, the State Corrections Commission has filed three complaints about problems in Erie County’s prisons, including overcrowding and failure to report or investigate serious incidents such as suicides and sexual assault. More than 30 prisoners died in custody during this time.
“They just don’t prioritize the safety of their inmates,” said Shaimaa Aakil, who claims the detention center staff laughed once and refused her tampons when she was an inmate there.