Freeholder Jack Surrency Calls on Joseph Derella to Replace Emergency Prison Meeting with Public Hearing

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Assignment Editor

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

BRIDGETON, N.J. — Cumberland County freeholder Jack Surrency has publicly called on freeholder director Joseph Derella to cancel Friday night’s emergency meeting concerning the freeholder board’s plans regarding the Cumberland County jail.

On August 20, Derella announced that the Freeholder Board is reconsidering plans for a new $65 million correctional facility in the county. Although nothing was set in stone at the time of the August 20 announcement, the Board indicated that it was formulating plans to send inmates to other prisons in the region and lay off employees at the Cumberland County jail. Friday’s emergency meeting will be held to vote on an inmate transfer agreement with Atlantic County, according to Surrency’s letter.

“County government should not operate in the shadows of a Friday night meeting,” Surrency, who also recently called on New Jersey’s comptroller to investigate how the Cumberland County Improvement Authority handled bonds pertinent to the jail construction, said in a press release. “We need a public hearing, and we need time for the other branches and levels of government to weigh in on this important matter.”

Throughout his letter to Derella, Surrency criticized Derella’s lack of transparency with both the Board and public surrounding decision-making related to the jail case. He wants the public and other government branches’ input to be considered throughout the process of formulating plans for a new prison.

Surrency called a Friday vote on an inmate transfer agreement with Atlantic County “a rush to judgement” in his letter.

“Too much is uncertain at this time – and this is not a decision that we can walk back [on],” the letter reads. “It deserves careful consideration, and before we hold a vote we should (1) hold a public hearing, (2) pause to hear from Judge Telsey, and (3) await a decision from the Civil Service Commission. Hear from all those involved.”

You can read Surrency’s full letter to Derella below:

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