Vincent DeMarco Sheiff Suffolk County
December 16, 2011 @ 12:00 am EST
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Vincent F. DeMarco, Sheriff of Suffolk County
Today’s speaker at LIMBA was Vincent DeMarco, Sheriff of Suffolk County, and frankly I learned few things I did not know before.
The office of Sheriff has a long history. It was established under constitution of New York State. In the earliest days it was an appointed position and today it is an elected position.
The Sheriff’s Department controls all the County Jails that house thousands of prisoners. The sheriff’s office also has ties to Nassau jail facilities and Rikers Island. The sheriff department has many of its employees empowered as police officers and often makes arrests. More recently they have been asked to patrol the Long Island Expressway. County Executive Levy gave this task to them to the chagrin of the Suffolk County Police. According to DeMarco they are asked to be as cooperative as possible while still enforcing traffic violations. They are also asked to accommodate a stranded motorist when there is the opportunity.
DeMarco spoke about the historic failure of the "correction system" according to him they do not correct behavior they are more likely to make the offender worse. He has taken on programs that are designed to actually modify behavior. "Rehabilitation is less realistic when you are dealing with a 40 year old than when dealing with a younger offender" However Mr. DeMarco told us that even the youngest offenders have a high rate of recidivism. With programs they are using lately the record shows that positive results are possible with youthful offenders. Instead of a 70% recidivism it may now be 40%. That is far from perfect but a clear improvement.
He addressed the situation where the inmate should not be in jail at all. Mentally ill people sometimes commit crimes and they need mental health facilities, not jail, but they wind up there because no one knows what else to do with them. The care is expensive and not always available.
The sheriff department has the inglorious task of evicting people from their homes when there is a default, or the renter is evicted for non-payment of rent
The sheriff’s office is one of those agencies that are big, but largely out of view.