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County, State Prevail in Jail COVID-19 Case

Monticello, NY – A NYS Supreme Court judge has dismissed a case brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) against the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

“As Judge Stephan Schick noted in granting our motion to dismiss, the County Jail, its corrections officers and its medical personnel did not disregard, at any point, the health and safety of our inmates,” County Attorney Michael F. McGuire stated. “I am gratified at his decision, rendered before we even needed to state our side of the case. Obviously the Court agreed that the NYCLU’s petition was without merit and unfounded.”

The NYCLU filed suit on behalf of five inmates (eventually extended via class action to the entire jail population), claiming that insufficient medical care was provided during the COVID-19 outbreak and that prisoners were subject to dangerous, life-threatening conditions. A visit by Judge Schick to the old Jail on Bushnell Avenue in Monticello proved otherwise, but the case continued, even as inmates and staff were transferred to the brand new County Jail near Route 17’s Exit 104.

“Like many other facilities housing groups of people, we endured one outbreak of coronavirus with 33 inmates, but our aggressive measures completely controlled it,” Legislature Chairman Robert Doherty explained. “Our medical staff at the Jail have worked just as diligently as our Public Health team to corral and eradicate COVID-19, and proof is in the fact that since May 14, we have had just one case of coronavirus in the Jail.”

The Sheriff’s Office, which operates the Jail, continues to provide masks and education to inmates and staff, with State guidelines on social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing rigorously enforced. Temperatures are taken daily, and nursing staff see inmates twice a day. The new Jail also has specially-built quarantine facilities and does not house inmates in the dormitory style that challenged COVID containment efforts in the old Jail.

“We have been handling this unprecedented pandemic appropriately in both our old and current Jail facilities, of that the public can be assured,” McGuire remarked. “I thank the District Attorney’s Office and the NYS Attorney General’s Office for their collaboration in this case to ensure that point was made absolutely clear in Court.”