Erie County Legislative Chair April Baskin called for more information Tuesday in the recent death of Erie County Holding Center inmate, Robert Ingalsbe.
"It's extremely tragic and it deserves immediate attention, and immediate explanation and transparency," said Baskin.
Baskin says while Ingalsbe's family confirmed his death, the Erie County Sheriff's Office has not reported it to the legislature or the public.
"It would be helpful for us to know the details surrounding this most recent death," said Baskin.
Baskin says Ingalsbe is the fourth inmate death in as many months, and the 28th since Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard took office in 2005.
In a statement issued Saturday, Howard said the inmate was there last Thursday on a warrant for robbery and tried to commit suicide Friday. He was taken to a local hospital where he was treated until a pulse was detected, and then allowed to be with his family after a judge dropped the warrant.
"It's hard to determine what the root cause is when those who serve in administrative roles find it difficult to come forward," said Baskin.
Baskin says the reasons behind these deaths remain a mystery, one she's been trying to solve since she took office. She says a lack of trained medical staff to help those dealing with addiction and other mental health issues could be a factor.
"It's extremely frustrating. I have always been an advocate for more transparency in county government specifically when it comes to the office of the sheriff," said Baskin.
So has the U.S Department of Justice, following a two-year investigation into the holding center in 2007, that led to a lawsuit two years later.
While Baskin says she remains hopeful the center is in compliance with federal government guidelines, more needs to be done.
"People are still dying. That's where my focus is. The deaths," said Baskin.
Baskin has invited Sheriff Howard and others to a future public safety meeting to address the issue.
The county is also in the process of seating its recently established corrections specialist advisory board to serve as a liaison to the sheriff's office.
"Additional eyes and additional help with getting us where we need to be as a county when it comes to public safety," said Baskin.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz declined to comment on the incident or the number of overall deaths, telling Spectrum News it is up to the sheriff's office to handle the matter.
The Erie County Sheriff's Office, Teamsters Local 264, and the U.S Department of Justice did not immediately return requests for comment.