By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
BRIDGETON, N.J. — A New Jersey judge has delayed the layoffs of 115 employees and dismissed a lawsuit combating the closure of Cumberland County Jail, according to a report by NJ.com’s Bill Duhart.
The 115 employees are mostly prison guards, and they were initially slated to be laid off last week. Cumberland County’s Freeholder Board had sent New Jersey’s Civil Services Commission a warning letter about 121 potential layoffs when the plan to effectively leave Cumberland County without its own prison was announced in October. The court delayed these layoffs to seek more information about how lawyers will access clients if Cumberland County’s jail is fully closed down.
During a special Friday night meeting on October 9, Cumberland County’s Freeholder Board voted to rescind its direct services contract with Gloucester County and replace it with new agreements with Atlantic and Burlington counties. Freeholder Jack Surrency, one of two Board members to vote against replacing the resolution passed on October 9, criticized Board director Joe Derella for making the decision during a private, Friday night meeting.
This Friday night meeting and previous resolution to reconsider construction of a $65 million prison in the county effectively leave Cumberland County without its own prison system for the time being.
“We view our plan to downsize the county jail and house detainees in other correctional facilities as a collaborative process that includes a number of stakeholders, including attorneys who represent those detainees,” Derella said in a statement. “In the end, our plan will save the taxpayers of Cumberland County approximately $8-10 million dollars the first year and millions thereafter by housing our detainees in an underutilized correctional facility in an adjacent county without undue burden to those being detained.”
Derella has consistently said scrapping plans to build a new prison in the county would go onto save Cumberland County taxpayers $8-10 million over the next year. The plan, however, had already begun, as the foundation for Cumberland County’s new prison was already built. According to NJ.com, Cumberland County has already spent $13 million on the project that’s on hold for the time being.
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