This is a Custody action was commenced originally Sheriffs, all of whom are responsible for the operation of jails and local correctional facilities within their respective counties. Six additional Sheriffs were later joined as petitioners.
A New York Family Lawyer said that the genesis of the dispute is the recognized problem of overcrowding in the prison system of this State. Generally, where a defendant in a criminal action is incarcerated prior to conviction and sentencing, the individual is confined at the local correctional facility of the county in which the action is pending. After sentencing, the defendant is committed to the custody of the Department and is ultimately assigned to a State correctional facility.
After sentencing, there is some delay while certain paperwork is processed before the prisoner is “State-ready”. Because of cost and lack of space, the County Sheriffs want the Department to accept prisoners as soon as they become State-ready. The problem is compounded by the fact that the Commission has promulgated regulations, which apply to both county and State facilities, establishing maximum capacity. In some circumstances, County Sheriffs, faced with a delay by the Department in accepting State-ready prisoners and maximum capacity in their correctional facilities, are forced to house prisoners in other counties’ facilities at a great cost to the county. Finally, the Sheriffs contend that the Division of Parole unreasonably delays the processing of alleged parole violators, who remain in county facilities until their parole is formally revoked and they, thus, become State-ready.
A New York Child Custody Lawyer hen a sentence of imprisonment is pronounced the defendant must forthwith be committed to the custody of the appropriate public servant and detained until the sentence is complied with.
A Queens Family Lawyer said this statute has been held to require that the public servant to whom custody of the defendant has been committed accept the defendant without delay. Further, in several recent cases, courts have mandated that State officials accept certain persons committed to their custody within a specific time period. However, each of those cases involved a court tailoring relief to the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
A Queens Custody Lawyer said in a case, the relief concerned specific county detention facilities. The proof established that State-ready inmates had remained in Suffolk County Correctional Facility for months awaiting acceptance by the Department, resulting in a dangerously overcrowded situation at that facility. Likewise, in County of said case proof established that the county facilities were filled to capacity.
The Legislature has the authority to amend CPL 430.20(1) to define “forthwith” as a specific time period, and it may do so based on whatever policy considerations it deems appropriate. The judiciary may use the equitable remedy of injunction to define “forthwith” as a specific time period, but only where, based on evidence presented in a particular dispute, such extraordinary relief is necessary to give the statute any meaning and to provide relief to the prevailing party.
Such is the situation in the above-discussed cases. In the instant case, Supreme Court established a time period with State-wide applicability. Yet, the proof in the record does not demonstrate that every county correctional facility in the State holds State-ready inmates for a prolonged period of time with the result that every such facility is overcrowded. Indeed, the petition states that only 28 of the 58 local correctional facilities are operating beyond capacity. Nor is there any evidence indicating that 10 days is appropriate for every local facility. Thus, unlike the cases discussed earlier, the proof in the record does not warrant the extraordinary relief ordered by Supreme Court. Without disputing the wisdom of such relief, it is more properly a legislative remedy, not an adjudicatory one.
Next, respondents claim that Supreme Court erred in enjoining the Commission from enforcing its minimum standard to the extent that overcrowding is caused by the failure of the Department to accept State-ready prisoners. The regulations of the Commission provide a maximum capacity for each local correctional facility and prohibit the placement of prisoners in excess of such capacity. Petitioners’ argument is that it is inequitable for them to be penalized for failure to comply with the regulations where such failure is caused by the Department’s refusal to timely accept State-ready inmates. This legitimate concern of the Commission does not become irrelevant simply because the overcrowding situation is the fault of the Department rather than the counties. The Commission lawfully promulgated 9 NYCRR part 7040 and the fact that the Department may have caused the overcrowding does not provide legal justification for interfering with the Commission’s authority.
Finally, the counterclaim filed by respondents is patently frivolous and was properly dismissed. It seeks to compel petitioners to take steps to alleviate overcrowding at county correctional facilities. To the extent that respondents seek to compel petitioners to construct sufficient additional jails, there is nothing in the record to demonstrate that individual County Sheriffs have the authority to undertake such action. On the contrary, it is elementary that such action may be taken only by the governing body of the county.
To the extent that the counterclaim seeks to direct petitioners to obtain permission to designate substitute jails pursuant to Correction Law § 504, it is likewise without merit. Since such action by the Sheriffs would clearly be discretionary in nature, it could not be the subject of a proceeding in the nature of mandamus to compel. Further, the use of mandamus to review to challenge a discretionary act is only available to review a specific decision alleged to be arbitrary and capricious. There has been no such specific decision which is being challenged herein.
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