06/11/14 8:00am
06/11/2014 8:00 AM
An advocacy group launched a campaign called "Humanity is the New Black" after the popular Netflix showed filmed there. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

An advocacy group launched a campaign called “Humanity is the New Black” after the popular Netflix showed filmed at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Conditions at the Riverside jail aren’t what they seem on the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.”

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit against Suffolk County two years ago, they’re much worse.  (more…)

02/14/14 4:07pm
02/14/2014 4:07 PM


A Riverhead man awaiting sentencing for robbing a Horton Avenue house last year is now facing further charges after he impersonated an alleged murderer to influence another inmate’s case while in the Suffolk County jail last month, according to county officials and court documents.

Tremel Kelly, 21, was arrested on Jan. 7 after he tried to tear up the document he forged, according to sworn statements used as evidence in town court.


09/03/13 5:31pm
09/03/2013 5:31 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Authorities say Octavious Rose, 18, ran from the Riverhead police department after his arraignment Tuesday morning and was tackled into these bushes by a police officer.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Authorities say Octavious Rose, 18, ran from the Riverhead police department after his arraignment Tuesday and was tackled into these bushes by a police officer.

A Riverhead teen who had just been arraigned at Riverhead Town Justice Court on a felony larceny charge tried to escape the building by running out the front door, and made  it down the front steps before a Riverhead police officer tackled him into a bush, police said.

The 18-year-old, Octavious Rose, was then taken to the Suffolk County jail, where he was being held on a new felony charge for escaping, authorities said.

Mr. Rose was arrested Monday and charged with petit larceny and fourth-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing from WalMart, a police source said. He was held overnight and arraigned in town Justice Court on the larceny charges Tuesday morning.

But as he was being led out of the courtroom, Mr. Rose ran out of building — which also serves as police department headquarters — through the front door, the source said. He managed to run down the first flight of stairs, but was caught in the bushes just outside the door by officer Richard Anderson.

He was brought back into court and re-arraigned on a second-degree escape charge, a class E felony. Bail was set at $5,000 cash: $2,500 for the grand larceny charge and $2,500 for trying to escape, court officials said.

Mr. Rose had been arrested before on larceny charges, including once at the same store, according to previous police reports.

On March 7, Mr. Rose — then 17 years old — was arrested at the Riverhead WalMart for petit larceny and unlawful possession of marijuana after stealing from the store, according to a police report. He had been processed and released on $100 bail for those charges, police said at the time.

That case is still pending. He is currently being held in Suffolk County jail on the felony charges.


08/26/13 6:00am
08/26/2013 6:00 AM

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The new Suffolk County jail facility in Yaphank.

When the plan to build a new Suffolk County county jail was first proposed about 10 years ago, the political and economic landscape in the county, as well as the nation as a whole, was dramatically different from what we have today. Even back then, when Suffolk County was running budget surpluses, opponents of the new jail project made good arguments that it was ill-conceived, from both budgetary and policy standpoints.

In retrospect, they were right.

Suffolk County is now facing budget deficits that may exceed $200 million in 2014. At the same time, county officials are considering moving forward with Phase II of the new jail in Yaphank, at an expected cost of $100 million, totally paid for by Suffolk taxpayers without any state or federal subsidies. It is madness.

During the past several years, analyses and studies by criminal justice experts have highlighted our flawed approach to crime and punishment nationwide. Accounting for population, the rates of incarceration in the United States are some of the highest in the world. This high rate of incarceration is largely created by our decades long “War on Drugs” and a get-tough-on-repeat-offenders strategy that mandated prison sentences for defendants regardless of the severity of their actual crimes. The result for states and other municipalities has been soaring expenditures for corrections and other related costs of criminal justice systems. These policies have had a crippling effect on state and local county budgets.

However, recent studies on a national level have indicated that this trend is being reversed. Most states have gotten smart about the cost of incarceration and the need to reduce jail populations through less costly alternatives. Even here in New York State, the prison population has decreased during the past few years, with state prisons being closed and costs statewide being reduced. In contrast, Suffolk County has been moving in the opposite direction, with more and more jail cells being built or proposed and increased numbers of people being incarcerated. It has to stop as soon as possible, or it will send this county into a fate similar to that of Nassau County, or worse, Detroit.

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco has been pressing forward with a plan to reduce the inmate population through less costly alternatives to jail and diversions from incarceration that could eliminate the need for the $100 million Phase II of the new Yaphank jail. Suffolk County legislators and taxpayers should heed his call.

By expanding current jail diversion programs through the Probation Department and the courts, along with implementing new, cost-effective initiatives to divert low-level offenders from incarceration, we can significantly reduce the inmate population here in Suffolk County without jeopardizing public safety. These alternatives to incarceration programs can save taxpayers both the cost of expanding the Yaphank jail, as well as the annual increase in operating expenditures associated with running and staffing this new jail, which would include both hiring more correctional officers and increases in overtime pay.

Suffolk County needs to get in step with the rest of the nation and avoid the costs associated with high rates of incarceration.

Jerry Bilinski is a case manager with a non-profit group that advocates for incarcerated and mentally ill people. He lives in Riverhead.