TOWN OF DICKINSON (WBNG) -- The Broome County Sheriff's Office hosted an open house Wednesday intended for the public to get to know their local law enforcement.
However, while many were checking out the equipment used by staff , a group of people from a local organization were protesting, claiming that the jail is mistreating the inmates. The group is with the Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (J.U.S.T.). They say they wanted to spread the message that the Broome County Jail isn't giving inmates enough medical attention.
"We're trying to bring attention to the abuse, medical neglect and death that's happening in this facility," said Andrew Pragacz with J.U.S.T.
This comes after the recent deaths the jail has reported. Broome County Sheriff David Harder says the jail has seen five inmate deaths in the last 19 years. He also says the recent deaths were caused by pre-existing conditions, and that they would have died no matter where they were.
"We spend over $3 million to treat the inmates that are here," Sheriff Harder said. "We have doctors on staff, we have nurses on staff around the clock, we have a psychiatrist, dentists, mental health forensic people. We do everything we can while they're here."
The group says they not only want to see the incarceration rate go down, they want to see the jail shut down.
"Let's bring down the incarceration rate, let's stop the death, let's make sure we're providing humane conditions," Pragacz said. "In many cases that means they shouldn't be incarcerated at all."
Sheriff Harder says the conditions are humane and that they provide the best services possible.
"I have 187 correction officers who oversee them everyday and they do the best they can," said Sheriff Harder.
Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier also say they're concerned with the number of inmates that are held in the jail. Sheriff Harder says that jail currently has 517, and it can hold 600.