BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Sheriff's Office reports its reached "sustained substantial compliance" with the United States Department of Justice.
That means the Sheriff's Division of Correctional Health has "met the guidelines and mandates of the stipulated order of dismissal, and medical division is no longer under the direction of the U.S.D.O.J."
According to a press release, the Division of Correctional Health had to achieve compliance in 18 areas of medical standards. These jails needed to maintain those standards for 18 months.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment by this office and the many sworn and civilian employees. The Sheriff’s Office quickly gained compliance for the security operations, and now, within two and half years of taking over medical from the County’s Department of Health, we were able to gain compliance with the Division of Correctional Health," Sheriff Tim Howard said.
Mental health responsibilities remain under the direction of Erie County.
Erie County's jails have been in the spotlight after several deaths inside the facilities and in hospitals -- with ties to the holding center-- resulting in calls for more oversight.
Earlier this month, an inmate died after an attempted suicide inside the Erie County Holding Center.
There are increased calls for change as a result.
Howard says, this new designation will help his office "...work with the mental health department and the community to find innovative ways to treat a growing inmate population with diagnosed mental health problems.”