United As One coalition asks why regarding Raul Pinet's death

Raul Pinet Community Forum in Syracuse

The United As One Coalition discussed their unanswered questions concerning the Onondaga County Justice Center with the community on Saturday.

The group focused on the death of Raul Pinet, who died while being booked in the Justice Center in 2010. The Coalition asked questions like, who was in charge, why was there only one medical evaluation done and why wasn't anyone at the Justice Center disciplined following Pinet's death.

The New York State Commission of Correction ruled Pinet's death a homicide, saying he died of positional asphyxia. This past August, a grand jury did not recommend that any criminal charges be filed instead recommending more training.

The Coalition is concerned because Pinet's death is not the first at the jail. 15 years ago, Johnny Williams died there, and in November of 2009, Chuniece Patterson died of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. On Saturday, the Coalition campaigned for a procedure change at the Justice Center, in hopes that no one else would die there.

"It is time for oversight of the policies and practices and review of incidents at the jail," Barrie Gewanter, the director of the Central New York Chapter of NYCLU, says.

One of the Coalition's plans is to try and create an independent review board, similar to the Citizens Review Board, it would investigate incidents and complaints and make recommendations to the Sheriff and legislature.

"When we have oversight committees looking after this type of conduct, we know that it's going to be always better, because there is transparency," Jose Enrique Perez, a part of the United As One Coalition, says.

The Coalition says they will pressure legislation by attending meetings, speaking out in order to get the change they believe will save lives.