BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – JUST, or Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier filed charges against the sheriff and Broome County in May, demanding that they adjust visitation hours at the county jail.
The organization says it won the state supreme court case, with the ruling that visitation hours return to the regular, pre-COVID schedule.
JUST says that Harder reduced visitation from 40 hours, 5 days a week down to 15 hours 3 days a week.
They say many working people cannot schedule around the limited visitation hours.
The program director for visitation at JUST, Jackson Hengsterman says that even when the new sheriff is elected, the advocacy for those who are incarcerated will continue.
“In this new ruling, the way it has been done so far says, that we have to have those hours as they were before, but unfortunately, it has not been adhered to. So, we’re hoping that after this hearing, Sheriff Harder and the jail will be found in contempt of court, and then after that, we’ll be able to go back to how it was before. And family members will be able to go in at their convenience rather than fitting in these weird schedules and pockets that Harder has created.”
JUST is also asking the court to pay back the money that people have used on video and phone calls to those in the jail and to better the quality of food for the inmates.
The hearing was at 11 a.m. today, and no official decision has been made.
Harder responded and said that he made his decision based upon the recommendations from the Health Department and the Commissioner of Corrections.
He says that people can call ahead and reserve a time to visit.