The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders will hold another vote Tuesday regarding the proposal to accept inmates from Gloucester County’s soon-to-be-closed jail.
County officials said this will likely be a “confirmation vote” of the measure that the freeholders approved 5-1 on March 13.
The March 13 meeting drew residents and corrections officers — primarily from Cumberland and Gloucester counties — who oppose the plan.
Cumberland County’s corrections officers said they are worried that more inmates will decrease safety at Cumberland County’s jail in Bridgeton. The Gloucester County corrections officers are worried about their employment future, as Gloucester County plans to lay off at least one-third of its corrections officers.
Cumberland County officials said they planned to hire about 15 new corrections officers before the proposal developed with Gloucester County. They also said they would not increase the Cumberland County jail’s capacity beyond its 550-inmate limit.
The residents say the move will increase crime by causing more people charged with offenses to live in Cumberland County. They allege that some of the prisoners housed in Cumberland County’s three New Jersey correctional facilities — South Woods State Prison, Bayside State Prison and Southern State Correctional Facility — remain in the county after they have been released.
However, officials with the state Department of Corrections said they have no statistics on that.
“When they leave the prisons, we don’t track them,” department spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenhauer said. “They’re free.”
Officials with the New Jersey State Parole Board also said that agency has no statistics on where prisoners wind up after leaving a correctional facility.
“You could track it, but it would be too time-consuming to do that,” state Parole Board spokesman David Thomas said.
However, Thomas said, anecdotal information indicates that most state prisoners returned to their home counties when they are released.
“Most people will return back to support systems,” he said. “That support system may be parents; it may be a brother; it may be a sister, or may be some kind of girlfriend.”
State Corrections records show that about one-third of New Jersey’s almost 25,000 state prisons are housed in the three facilities in Cumberland County. The largest percentage of state prisoners from 2009 through last year came from Essex County, according to the records. The county provided 15 percent of all state prisoners for the past two years, and 16 percent of state prisoners in 2010 and 2009.
Camden County provided the second-largest percentage of state prisoners for those two years, reaching 11 percent last year and 12 percent in each of the other three years.
After Camden County, Atlantic County provided the largest percentage of state prisoners from any South Jersey county. About 8 percent of state prisoners in 2012 and 2009 were from Atlantic County, and 7 percent in 2011 and 2010.
No per-prison, by-county breakdown was available.
Under the agreement, Cumberland County will accept between 100 to 350 inmates from Gloucester County.
Cumberland County officials said Gloucester County will pay $100 a day per inmate, with the payment based on a minimum of 100 inmates. Cumberland County officials the resulting $3 million in estimated new revenue will help ease county budget deficits.
Three Fraternal Order of Police locals have sued Cumberland and Gloucester counties in an attempt to block the agreement.
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