The Erie County Sheriff's Office is accused of trying to hide prisoners' suicide attempts at county facilities.
The Buffalo chapter of the National Lawyers Guild filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court, demanding records on jail practices from the Sheriff's Office.
The group filed a request for the documents under the freedom of information law nearly a year ago, but says they have not received a response.
NLG claims the Sheriff's Office classifies inmate suicide attempts as "inmate disturbances" and "manipulative gestures," instead of reporting them as suicides to the state Commission of Correction.
The lawsuit follows a decade of investigations into conditions at the Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility in Alden.
The NLG says 22 inmates have died at those facilities since 2006.
"We're all Erie County citizens and we need to know that our inmates are having their constitutional rights protected and also that they're being treated humanely," said Buffalo NLG Student Attorney Suzanne Starr.
The Sheriff's Office did not immediately return a request for comment.