BY CHRIS STEVENSON
Early last week Edward Berezowski , 54, was reported as found hanging in his cell by his jail-issued pants. According to the Buffalo News he died on Friday, August 17. He was said to have told deputies he was going to his cell to take a nap. Berezowski was just arrested a day or so beforehand for choking an employee at Best Buy. This follows the incident several weeks ago when there was a reported suicide attempt at Buffalo’s Erie County Holding Center by an inmate named David Green, 45. Green was said to have tried to hang himself from a railing with a bedsheet, until a deputy cut the sheet and pulled him down. Acting jail Superintendent Thomas Diina said Glenn was screened several times over and not considered a suicide risk.
Berezowski was reported to be found hanging by the pants of his orange jail outfit at 3:16pm by a deputy making routine safety checks in the Echo Long Housing Unit and was cut down and given CPR. Now, I don’t know what is more suspect: the alleged suicide just past high-noon, or the quickly-released Sheriff’s “internal investigation” that cleared all security staff working under him of responsibility. But one thing I’m pretty certain of: something demonic is going on with Sheriff’ Tim Howard’s Department.
Berezowski’s death brings my count of the number of so-called suicides to 29. This includes Lester J. Foster (12/23/11), Trevell Walker (10/12/11), Rakim Scriven (9/4/11), Keith John (7/31/10), Jeremy Kiekbush (3/3/10), Daniel Nye (2/13/10), Adam Murr (12/19/09), John Reardon (4/30/08), Joanne Jesse (3/31/08), Michael Roberts (1/23/07), Carmelo Torres (5/14/05), Juan Aquino (4/20/05), Michael Scioli (9/22/04), Patrick Chadwick (9/11/04), Eden Baez (8/28/03), John Marinaccio (4/29/03), Eric Fedrick (9/14/02), Christian Johns (8/20/98), Virgil Weathington (1/11/97), Scott Maurer (10/15/96), Kenneth Hall (6/23/96), Victor Ortiz (11/4/95), Allen Hagedorn (5/24/95), Jason Winiewski (12/2/92), Robert Huhn (1/1/92), Lamar Patterson (8/15/91), Jeffrey Fromen (8/28/90), and James Lee (2/20/89).
That’s 18 ECHC deaths, ALL conspicuously ruled “suicides” since September 14, 2002, and 29 since ’89. (It seems to be the custom of all NYS lockups, to classify their deaths as suicides). Not all of these were under Sheriff Howard, who has been in office since ’06. He served as Undersheriff since ’89 to Patrick Gallivan, who was also elected to office in ’89 and served until ’05. Gallivan is now a State Senator of the 59th District.
Perhaps it’s just dumb coincidence that many of the people getting arrested are suicide risks, but that all depends on what one considers “risk.” What it really looks like is a case of jail staff ignoring warning signs, including letters to church leaders, and forms submitted to jail staff describing poor living conditions, 18-24 hour lockdowns, sleeping on half a blanket, no pillow, and something that barely passes for a mattress. And rumors of beatings with a phonebook by certain deputies. Once again I have to reiterate this is just county jail, no verdict has been rendered to most of these inmates. As suspects they are still in actuality innocent. Buffalo and Alden facilities are not to be confused with state penitentiary.
On a typical Buffalo sunshiny morning one can still get a cloudy perspective of life by tuning in one of Buffalo’s two conservative radio stations. If you want to find out why Buffalo is one of the most economically depressed, and racially segregated cities in the country, then listen to the likes of Tom Baurle; pretty much the local conservative radio grunt preaching apathy-to-zealotry against real concerns, and real concern for things that are trivial. Brainwashers-for-hire are common in most cities, for an economically-crippled town like Buffalo it’s like kicking an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs.
One morning a few months ago his show opened in the midst of a local school Superintendent controversy: “Where is the evidence that school superintendents of color have better results in mostly black schools? If someone suggested that a district like Clarence (a mostly-white rural town) give an edge to white candidates, all hell would break loose.” One of his commenters on his Facebook post on the same theme named Mark responded: “the hyphen is destroying America.”
Sheriff Howard operates from the same platform as Baurle and his brainless minions. He thinks that giving his mostly-black inmates the slightest thing is “giving them an edge.” Do Howard and Baurle suffer from low-racial-esteem? In Howard’s case that’s a distinct possibility. According to one of the board members of Prisoners Are People Too (PRP2), Sheriff Howard blatantly uses funds earmarked to benefit inmates for personal and staff use.
“Regarding the creation of the Ombudsman (an independent investigator and arbitrator), the sticking point is funding. The County Legislature’s Advisory Board suggested that profits from the prisoners’ commissary fund be used for an Ombudsman office. These funds previously (and currently) were used by the Sheriff for things other than what they were legislatively intended for, i.e. to benefit the welfare and education of detainees,” according to PRP2 boardmember and veteran prison rights activist Charles Culhane.
According to Culhane, Howard operates under a budget of $100 million per year and totally ignores the State Commission of Correction, the US Department of Justice, Erie County Comptrollers Office, and the Erie County Legislature over his misappropriation of spending. Much money has been spent on salaries and toys like new laptops for his staff, but nothing in relation to better conditions and education for his inmates. It would take no time for such a disdain for detainees to cross over into his deputies. At least by default this amounts to it’s own psychological warfare toward the inmates, and death. When Lester J. Foster died, his family received a gruesome phone call from the jail along the lines of this: “Is this Mrs Foster… I just called to tell you your son committed suicide. ‘click.'”
Foster was to be released soon and was never considered to be suicidal. Chalk up another one for Buffalo’s death row: Erie County Jail. It’s not the hyphen that’s destroying America, it’s the traditional apathy and over-analysis that prevents poor and middle-class whites from figuring out rich whites.