As reported in the Star-Ledger on November 26, 2009, according to a lawsuit filed by the union representing prison investigators, senior officials at the Department of Corrections are illegally blocking internal investigations into bribery, cell phone smuggling and gang activity. In short, the lawsuit alleges that Correction officials shut down ongoing probes or prevented investigations from even beginning.

For example, the lawsuit alleges that investigators were told not to examine whether a prison employee was hiding a cell phone, or if an inmate had “put out a hit” on people outside the prison system. Other alleged spike investigations included probes into prison employees who fired service weapons, once during an alleged off-duty bar fight. Allegedly, both files were marked “no action taken” by senior officials.

The union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 174, represents about 90 officers within the Department of Corrections’ Special Investigations Division. The union has previously clashed with the Department’s leadership on issues of tactics and resources. 

The Special Investigations Division has been controversial for its dual role in probing gang activity and handling internal affairs. Officials inside and outside of the Division say its dual role creates distrust within the Department.

Spokespeople for the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. Please check this blog periodically to ascertain updates regarding this lawsuit as the same become available.