- Fixing the jail - Buffalo News Editorial
For months, Erie County Executive Chris Collins insisted that there was nothing wrong with the County Holding Center that was any of the federal government's business.
Last week, Collins agreed to fix many of the things that were seriously wrong with the Holding Center, in return for a federal surrender on a point of law that he says will protect taxpayers from lawsuits that might otherwise be filed.
Thus Collins can claim a political victory, and the people of Erie County gain some hope that the operation of their downtown lock-up will be the site of fewer inmate suicides and the cause of fewer expensive lawsuits.
The pact also stands, as Collins argues, as a good model for settling a handful of other troubling charges against the county's correctional facilities.
Taxpayers may be left to wonder why county officials were so willing to draw this line in the sand, exposing the county to high legal fees now and the threat of very expensive court orders later, rather than work more cooperatively with the U.S. Justice Department and reassure the public that it took the spate of jailhouse suicides seriously.
[Note that the Justice Department is hardly conceding anything. The headline on its press release is: Justice Department Obtains Sweeping Reforms in Suicide Prevention Practices at the Erie County Holding Center, Buffalo, New York to Protect Inmates from Life Threatening Conditions. So there.]
- Up in smoke - Buffalo News Editorial
It’s not hard to feel some sympathy for the Seneca Nation of Indians as it awaits what amounts to a death sentence for its Internet cigarette business. The recent law banning the U.S. Postal Service from delivering cigarettes will hurt, and perhaps cripple, its operations.
But sympathy isn’t the same as support. This was the right decision. Addictive, poisonous substances shouldn’t be available at the click of a button. That, alone, was sufficient reason to enact this law. ...
Things change. Ideas evolve. Fifty years ago, doctors were advertising cigarettes on television. Today, we understand the severe social and individual costs of nicotine addiction. This is a change whose time has come.
Of course, doctors used to make house calls, too:
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
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