Dickinson, NY – An inmate death on Thursday marked the fifth death in the Broome County Jail since 2015, and the number of inmates dropping dead has left the news looking for someone to blame.
In an interview with Jackie Prager with WBNG, Sheriff David Harder had a message for would-be critics: people die.
“We’ve taking in over 20,000 people within the past five years will all kinds of illnesses and problems,” Sheriff Harder told Prager. “There’s a long medical history that you take from them.”
That appears to be the case with 70-year-old Erford Ellis, who died in jail on Thursday. He was in jail for harassment when he died of a heart attack.
“Look at the obituaries in the paper okay? There are two people that I know. It’s sad to see it happen, but it happened, what are we going to do? Is the news media out there asking what could have been done to save them people, why not? Why aren’t you doing that? Why aren’t you going to the hospitals and ask them what they did to save that person so they wouldn’t die in the hospital? You pick on the jail why?” Sheriff Harder told Prager. “You could care less about anyone else on the street dying except people in jail.”
The sheriff explained that corrections staff makes checks to all jail cells every half hour, and defended the staff as hardworking.
Sheriff Harder added, “I don’t publicize deaths in the jail, not because I’m ashamed. Nobody goes around to the hospitals. Do they publicize how many people die in there? No, we don’t either. I told people before, I have a duty to the family, the Commission of Corrections, and the officers who tend to the death. That’s my responsibility, not to the news media.”
You can see Prager’s full 17+ minutes interview with the sheriff here.