Nassau County lawmakers appointed members to the Nassau County jail Board of Visitors, an oversight agency inmate advocates successfully sued the county to enact after 23 years of neglecting to do so.
The county legislature made the appointments in the last votes cast Thursday, their final scheduled meeting of the year, five months after the move was inexplicably adjourned this summer and nine months after a judge ordered the county to name appointees.
“This has been a long time coming,” Legis. Diane Ford (D-Long Beach) said before she and her fellow legislators voted the long-stalled panel into creation.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice James McCormack ordered Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano in March to name seven appointees to the board after the Nassau County chapter of the Civil Liberties Union sued to enact the board, which had not been empaneled since being created in 1990.
Mangano and County Sheriff Michael Sposato, who runs the jail, had resisted, arguing that it would be redundant despite a recent string of suicides and other incidents brought state scrutiny on the East Meadow correctional center, which also had been under federal oversight until several years ago.
The Board of Visitors will have the power to review jail records, investigate inmate complaints and issue recommendations to remedy issues its members find.
The volunteer appointees include several members who, like Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), also sat on the Nassau County Jail Advisory Committee, another volunteer panel that aims to address quality-of-life issues in communities surrounding the facility.
They include Richard Bivone, a building and electrical inspection company owner, Helen Meittinis, an East Meadow civic leader and Leon Campo, an East Meadow School District official.
The other three appointees are Alphonzo Albright of Long Beach, a former deputy commissioner in the New York City probation department, Dr. Philip Eliot, the Deputy Nassau County Executive for Health and Human Services and Michael N. Califano, a Nassau County budget analysis manager whose son, Michael M. Califano, was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty two years ago.