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Report On Jail Deaths, Corrective Action Should Have Been Discussed Publicly

A pair of state reports issued in the wake of two 2021 deaths in the Chautauqua County Jail raise serious questions about the way care is provided in the jail.

Review by the state Attorney General’s office found no criminal wrongdoing in the deaths, but the state Corrections Department Medical Review Board has recommended the county look at the way medication was administered in both cases as well as other aspects of the way medical and mental health care is provided. The Sheriff’s Office said in both reports that the situations were reviewed and corrective actions taken — but those actions were not detailed in the report on the Corrections Department website.

Both reports were reportedly sent to the chair of the Chautauqua County Legislature, but there is no indication from minutes of either the full legislature nor the legislature’s Public Safety or Human Services committees that the reports were ever discussed publicly after their release in November. One of the recommendations that Sheriff Jim Quattrone said has happened is the use of integrated records as was recommended by the Department of Corrections. That tells us the county was made aware of the recommendations sometime in 2022 — but you’d never know it attending county legislature meetings or reviewing the legislature’s agendas or minutes. Not only was there no discussion but the list of correspondence received from November through March of this year doesn’t show that the reports were ever received by the legislature.

By and large, jail employees likely do a good job, and it must be acknowledged that providing medical and mental health care in a jail setting is difficult, thankless, complicated work. And give Quattrone credit for undergoing accreditation with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, a process that shows the county jail’s standards and policies exceed the minimum standards set by the state Commission of Corrections. Those are good steps, and Quattrone has shown himself to be a sheriff who takes on tough issues.

But, two deaths in the span of a couple of months shouldn’t be forgotten or swept under the rug. In our opinion, the corrective actions taken should be made public. And the Chautauqua County Legislature should have discussed the reports publicly.

People with loved ones in the jail should know what the county is doing to remedy any issues.

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