Prisoners help clean Riverhead train station

Inmates fan out to clean the tracks Friday morning.

Inmates from the Suffolk County jail spent Friday morning cleaning outside the Riverhead train station, a job local officials say the Metropolitan Transit Authority should be doing.
The conditions at the train station — with garbage strewn across the tracks and urine on the building and on the train platform — came to light when Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter attended a previous press conference announcing a new train to coincide with juror schedules.
“I was embarrassed that the train station in my town looked like such a dump,” Mr. Walter said.
With the inmates working in the background, Mr. Walter, county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco held a press conference at the station Friday morning to call on the MTA to clean its own station.
“Right now, the county is being billed by the MTA for $25 million a year for station maintenance throughout Suffolk,” Mr. Romaine said. “We are obviously not getting $25 million in service.
“In past years, they were audited and found not to have provided the service. They are continuing not to provide the service, but they certainly are not late in providing us the bill.”
Mr. Romaine said he doesn’t know why the MTA charges the county to clean its own stations. “It’s just another one of those things,” he said.
“They just laid off about 200 maintenance people,’ noted Sheriff DeMarco.
“The MTA hasn’t maintained this for as long as I’m aware,” Mr. Walter said, adding that the town will try to have community service workers sentenced by Riverhead Justice Court clean the station as well.
The inmates are part of the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program, which uses inmates who are sentenced to misdemeanor charges who volunteer for the work.
They do work inside the jail and outside, with jobs ranging from carpentry to painting to landscaping, to name a few, the sheriff said.
“I think it’s a great program,” said an inmate who gave his name only as Chris. “Anything to get out of the jail.”
He’s scheduled to be released from jail on Thursday after serving time for a robbery conviction.
“It’s a first charge and hopefully the last,” he said.
MTA officials could not be immediately reached for a response.
[email protected]

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.