As reported by nj.com, a plan to close the Gloucester County jail and enter a shared services agreement with Cumberland County has some local law enforcement personnel, as well as those who work in and run Gloucester County’s jail, questioning and debating its supposed merits. It was announced Saturday that the two counties will work toward regionalizing their respective men’s county jail systems. The proposal has Gloucester County’s jail being closed, adult male inmates being sent to the Cumberland County Jail in Bridgeton and scaling back the amount of Gloucester County’s corrections officers by more than a third.
According to the Gloucester County Freeholder Board, the proposal, which they expect to vote on this Wednesday, could save nearly a quarter billion dollars over the life of the 25-year contract, as well as help reduce Cumberland County’s budget deficit. The net result could save Gloucester County $2 million this year, about $8.6 million next year, and more than $10 million in savings every year after that.
But for those who would be affected the most by this plan, the men and women serving as corrections officers and civilian personnel in the Gloucester County jail, the idea is one that they believe has not been fully thought out and one that not only put their jobs at stake, but also could become a public safety issue.
The Department of Corrections’ unions would like to see this plan looked at further and other options explored before it is finalized. “We would love to think they would want to work with us and see if any compromise can be made in Gloucester County,” Lt. Steven Newsom, the president of NJ FOP Lodge 165, which represents the jail’s superior officers, said. “We understand these fiscal times make us seek desperate measures. But safety should be a first priority.”
With regionalization, Gloucester County’s Department of Corrections employees are expected to be reduced to 33 uniformed officers, who will be used to transport inmates to and from court, the rest are expected to be laid off. The two counties have agreed that these individuals will be given an opportunity to apply for any positions that open up following the regionalization. But Gloucester County’s officers believe that the training they’ve received and the years of service, both on and off duty, should not be something discarded in a quick decision.