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Bayside State Prison
Cumberland, New Jersey
Correctional Medical Services
Oct 28, 2013 pressofatlanticcity.com

Inmates of Bayside State Prison in Cumberland County are reportedly protesting meal service following the switch to a private food vendor earlier this year. Labor union representatives characterized the protest as a “hunger strike,” but a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said there have been complaints but no strike. “In the past week, we have had several inmates express dissatisfaction with meals and portion sizes,” DOC spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer said Saturday. “We are working with the inmate representatives to address their concerns.” Eric Holliday, president of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association, said guards at the Maurice River Township facility reported that inmates have been on strike for several days because the “food is not up to par.” In 2011, 91 inmates staged a one-meal hunger strike in protest of prison services. At the time, a DOC spokesman said their concerns were addressed and the strike ended immediately. This February, the private firm Aramark Correctional Services, took over food production at the facility as part of a state pilot program. According to Aramark’s website, the Philadelphia-based company serves 1 million meals a day, in addition to other support services at 600 correctional facilities. Representatives from Aramark could not be reached for comment.

May 13, 2004
A New Jersey inmate infected with potentially deadly hepatitis C has filed a federal lawsuit against the state Corrections Department and its medical contractor, contending that his disease was left untreated for a decade after it was detected.  The suit by Jose Lopez, 49, an inmate at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, Cumberland County, is the latest to allege that New Jersey neither treated inmates for the liver disease nor told them that tests had found they were infected.  Lopez, whose family lives in Lindenwold, was one of 421 inmates notified in July 2002 that they were infected with the hepatitis C virus. The state's mass notification came in response to an Inquirer investigation of its handling of the disease, which can destroy the liver.  "The conduct of prison officials and medical providers was outrageous. Not to inform Mr. Lopez of a life-threatening disease is tantamount to watching a person having a heart attack and sit idly by," said Lopez's Philadelphia lawyer, Mark B. Frost, who filed the suit Friday in Camden.  The Department of Corrections declined to comment on the lawsuit. A spokesman for the department's medical contractor, the St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc., said he had not reviewed the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.  Lopez, a career criminal who has been in prison since 1983, tested positive for the hepatitis virus in 1992, the suit said. By the time he was notified 10 years later, it said, his health had seriously deteriorated.  He has since developed bleeding ulcers, a sign of liver cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C, medical records show.  In addition to Lopez, several other current and former New Jersey prisoners have sued the Department of Corrections and Correctional Medical Services - the largest prison health company in the nation.  (Times Leader)

Bo Robinson Treatment Center
Trenton, New Jersey
Community Education Centers

January 21, 2010 The Star-Ledger
State authorities are conducting a sweeping search for contraband at the Bo Robinson Treatment Center today, and one union official said they're hunting for a firearm. The private facility, run by West Caldwell-based Community Education Centers, is located on an industrial road just off Route 1. With a capacity of up to 900 people, it houses state and county inmates as well as offenders under parole supervision. Jim McGonigal, president of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association, which represents sergeants, said authorities found cell phones, alcohol and drugs in the facility last night. Now, acting on a tip, he said they're looking for a weapon. "The Department of Corrections is reacting proactively," he said. "They're taking it very seriously." A convoy of white Department of Corrections vehicles pulled up shortly before 10:30 a.m. A line of officers, some with search dogs, entered the facility shortly after, while another two with rifles stayed outside. Christopher Greeder, spokesman for Community Education Centers, confirmed the search but did not say whether they're looking for a gun. "Out of an abundance of caution, we're searching the whole facility," he said. "The good news is, nothing major has turned up yet." Parole Board spokesman Neal Buccino said at least one cell phone was found on a parolee. He said county and state authorities responded to the facility today after receiving a tip early this morning. McGonigal said it's the second major sweep of the facility in the last few weeks. He said centers like Bo Robinson lack the safety standards of state prisons. "We have no problem putting nonviolent offenders there," he said. "But they're putting in violent offenders. It's a breeding ground for disaster." Greeder said inmates at Bo Robinson are kept separate based on whether they're from county or state jurisdictions. He added that the facility has been recommended for accreditation from the American Correctional Association in November with a 100 percent compliance rating.

Camden County Jail
Camden, New Jersey
Aramark, Prison Health Services

February 17, 2009 Courier-Post
Rodent droppings, improper food storage and plumbing problems afflicted the kitchen at the Camden County Correctional Facility early this month, according to a county health report. A Feb. 2 inspection at the county jail, in downtown Camden, turned up more than a half-dozen health-related violations in the kitchen. It serves about 60,000 meals a day to inmates and staff, according to the inspection report. "The presence of mice throughout kitchen and storage area was evident," according to the report signed by inspectors Chris Naddeo and Caryelle Lasher. They estimated more than 200 mouse droppings had collected there. Responding to media inquiries on Friday, the county administration released a written statement that says that "a corrective-action plan is in motion." "Inspectors will work closely with the Correctional Facility's administration to make sure appropriate policies and procedures are in place and implemented," the statement reads. County jail inmates carry out day-to-day food preparation under the supervision of Aramark Correctional Services workers, the county reported. Aramark manages and operates the kitchen, according to the prepared statement. The jail, the county health department and Aramark are cooperating to address all the problems in the health report, including the cleanliness and food-preparation concerns, the statement reads. Among the problems outlined in the inspection report: Floors in the kitchen were not smooth or easily cleaned. Instead, they were worn and allowed water, grease and food debris to collect. Food was not covered well enough or protected from contamination during storage. Mouse droppings were discovered in some loosely covered butter. External doors near outdoor Dumpsters were not solid or tight-fitting, so they did not protect well against rodents or insects. A slow leak had developed in a storage-room ceiling. Several foods -- grits, chicken, rice and beef -- were not kept at required temperatures. Plumbing systems were not kept in good repair. Some water was draining directly onto the floor.

April 29, 2004
The family of a Cherry Hill man killed in Camden County Jail filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, charging county correctional officials with "reckless and deliberate indifference" in his death.  The suit charges that Joel Seidel's constitutional rights to medical care, due process and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment were violated while the former stockbroker was in custody.  The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Seidel's daughters, Sharon Clark and Devra Seidel, co-administrators of his estate.  "This tragedy was preventable and we intend to prove that the reckless and deliberate indifference of the prison guards and officials led to the death of Mr. Seidel," said Tom Kline, of Kline & Specter of Cherry Hill, attorney for the Seidel daughters.  County officials had not been served with the lawsuit late Wednesday and because of that were unable to comment, according to a spokesman.  The suit alleges "negligent, reckless, intentional, wrongful, deliberately indifferent and unlawful conduct" on the part of prison officials.  The suit cites overcrowding at the prison in general and the failure to move Seidel to a hospital, psychiatric facility or his own cell and failure to provide adequate observation.  The suit names as defendants the Camden County Jail, Camden County Department of Corrections and Camden County; and Prison Health Services Inc. and Steininger Behavioral Care Services, both of which had contracts to provide services to inmates.  (Courier-Post)

Community Education Centers
Roseland, New Jersey
Prisons, Privatization, Patronage: by Paul Krugman, The New York Times, June 22, 2012. Over the past few days, The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey's system of halfway houses - privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons.
As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives: by Sam Dolnick, New York Times, June 16, 2012. After serving more than a year behind bars in New Jersey for assaulting a former girlfriend, David Goodell was transferred in 2010 to a sprawling halfway house in Newark.
Essex County immigrant detention center a house of controversy: Chris Megerian, The Star-Ledger. Despite the barbed wire snaking across the top of its perimeter fence, Delaney Hall is not a traditional lock-up.
Texas prison boom going bust: by Mitch Mitchell, September 3, 2011, Star-Telegram. Expose on troubles facing many communities that bought into the private prison bonding scam.

November 11, 2012 NY Times
When the power failed at Logan Hall, a sprawling halfway house in Newark that resembles a prison, the rooms went dark. Then the locks clicked open. What happened next is likely to fuel the debate over the future of the large, privately run halfway houses in New Jersey, which have been criticized for mismanagement and lax oversight. As Hurricane Sandy raged outside, dozens of male inmates burst into Logan Hall’s corridors. They threatened female inmates, tore apart furniture and ripped signs inscribed with inspirational sayings from the walls, witnesses said. At least 15 inmates escaped from the halfway house, including some who had served time for aggravated assault, weapons possession and armed robbery. It was one of the largest mass escapes in the recent history of New Jersey’s corrections system, according to official statistics. All but one of the escapees have since been recaptured. After the violence broke out on Oct. 29, about 50 law enforcement officers from at least four state and county agencies converged on Logan Hall, officials said. Many were called at home and told to report immediately to the halfway house. Community Education Centers, the politically connected company that runs the 650-bed halfway house, appears to have done little if anything to prepare for the storm. The workers on duty, many of whom were poorly paid, did not know how to operate the backup generator, witnesses said. They did not even have flashlights. Gov. Chris Christie has long been an outspoken supporter of Community Education, which dominates the halfway house system in New Jersey. The Christie administration has not publicly disclosed that there was a disturbance that night at Logan Hall. Mr. Christie’s close friend and political adviser, William J. Palatucci, is a senior executive at Community Education. Mr. Palatucci announced last week that he would step down from the company. The company said the resignation was not related to the events at Logan Hall. A spokesman for Mr. Christie referred questions about Logan Hall to the State Department of Corrections. Both the Corrections Department and Community Education played down the violence and the escapes.

November 8, 2012 NY Times SAM DOLNICK
William J. Palatucci, one of Gov. Chris Christie’s closest friends and political advisers, said Thursday that he was stepping down as a senior executive at Community Education Centers, the politically connected company that dominates the troubled system of halfway houses in New Jersey. The resignation comes in the wake of widespread criticism of Community Education, particularly by Democratic state legislators, who said the company’s halfway houses, which are as large as prisons, were dangerous and poorly supervised. Mr. Palatucci’s role at the company became a flash point after The New York Times published a series of articles on escapes, violence and drug use at the halfway houses. The articles also described poor government oversight across the system, which handles thousands of inmates annually in New Jersey. Political analysts said Mr. Palatucci’s departure signaled that Mr. Christie, a Republican, wanted to avoid a potential liability before he began his campaign for another term next year or weighed running for the White House in 2016. “It’s better not to have him associated with an enterprise that has become very controversial and very damaging,” said Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers. “Any possible embarrassment that could result with his continued association with the halfway houses is something that they want to avoid.” Mr. Palatucci, a lawyer who has worked as a registered lobbyist, said he had no definite plans and was leaving “to do something different,” according to a spokesman, Eric Shuffler. Mr. Shuffler said Mr. Palatucci did not resign because of political considerations. “One has nothing to do with the other,” Mr. Shuffler said. Mr. Christie told reporters: “I wouldn’t read anything into that in terms of politics. No. I think it’s just Bill has decided it’s time for him to move on to another opportunity, and that’s what he’s doing.” When Mr. Christie ran for governor in 2009, Mr. Palatucci served as a senior campaign adviser while continuing to work at Community Education. He was also co-chairman of Mr. Christie’s inauguration committee in 2010. New Jersey has been a trailblazer in setting up a network of privately run halfway houses, which resemble prisons but have little of the security. They are meant to rehabilitate inmates, but are often chaotic, filled with contraband and gang activity, and they offer shoddy treatment, The Times found. After the articles were published in June, Mr. Christie, who had been a strong supporter of Community Education, vowed to step up inspections at the facilities. In July, the Legislature held two days of hearings on the system that focused heavily on Community Education. While Mr. Palatucci was not called to testify, many Democratic legislators wanted to know whether his relationship with the governor had benefited the company. Last year, Community Education was the only bidder for a $130 million contract awarded by Essex County, whose chief executive is one of Mr. Christie’s most important allies. That deal was heavily criticized as being weighted in Community Education’s favor. Mr. Palatucci has long been prominent in Republican circles. He was a major fund-raiser for President George W. Bush and used his connections to help Mr. Christie, his former law partner, secure a position as the United States attorney for New Jersey. When Mr. Palatucci joined Community Education in 2005, the company already had deep ties to Democratic politicians in New Jersey and was a major political donor. Mr. Palatucci offered entree to Republicans in New Jersey. He also played a key role as Community Education sought to expand to Alabama and other states. That national expansion has faltered, leaving the company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy in recent years.

August 21, 2012 AP
The New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association has filed a lawsuit that seeks to end a contract between Essex County and a private company that operates halfway houses. The suit filed Monday alleges that Delaney Hall, a Newark facility operated by Education Health Centers of America, is jeopardizing public safety. It also questions the nonprofit status of the firm, which has a sub-contracting arrangement with the for-profit Community Education Centers. The suit alleges that Essex County moves inmates to a lower-security facility run by EHCA in order to use its county jail space for a more lucrative federal detainee contract. After-hours messages left for EHCA and CEC officials on Tuesday night were not returned.

August 14, 2012 New York Times
The Christie administration said on Tuesday that it had issued $45,000 in fines against New Jersey halfway houses from which nine inmates escaped in recent months, the harshest penalties ever brought against the troubled network of private operators. The halfway houses were fined for failing to quickly report escapees to state officials and for recording inmates who had escaped as present. In other cases, supervisors failed to keep track of inmates who had fled from work-release programs or slipped away before being sent back to prison, corrections officials said. The inmates escaped from six different halfway houses, including two run by Community Education Centers, a company that dominates the state’s halfway house system and has drawn scrutiny because of its close ties to Gov. Chris Christie. Hundreds of inmates escape from the state’s halfway houses each year, but authorities have previously done little to crack down on the problem. No penalties had ever been brought against halfway house operators until officials learned of The New York Times’s 10-month investigation into escapes and other problems at the privately run centers, which can be as big as prisons but have little of their security. Corrections officials said on Tuesday that the penalties would improve the performances of the halfway houses, which hold parolees and inmates nearing the end of their sentences. The State Legislature held two days of hearings last month into halfway house problems raised by the Times articles, including gang activity, violence and drug use inside the centers. Lawmakers have vowed to introduce bills increasing halfway house oversight and tightening the contracting procedures. Senator Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from Bergenfield, said that it was “gratifying” to see the Corrections Department beginning to hold halfway houses accountable. “This is a step in the right direction, but it’s only a first step,” said Mr. Gordon, who is chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee, which held a hearing into the halfway houses last month. “I think we actually need to change the rules of the game.” The halfway house companies were notified last week of the fines, which came after a review of all the escapes over the past nine months.

August 8, 2012 New York Times
Gov. Chris Christie’s administration came under heavy criticism from legislators last month at hearings on New Jersey’s privately run halfway houses, which handle thousands of inmates each year. On Wednesday, Mr. Christie fired back, saying he would significantly weaken a measure approved by the legislators to increase their oversight of the system. It was the second time Mr. Christie moved to weaken new regulations for halfway houses. The Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a bill in June that required the state auditor to conduct reviews of major corrections contracts with private operators, including those with a halfway house company that dominates the system and has close ties to Mr. Christie. But the governor, a Republican, said Wednesday that he would sign the law only if all existing contracts, including those with halfway house operators, were exempted from the audits. He described the provision, freeing those contracts and their renewals from review, in a footnote toward the end of a four-page statement on the bill. Both the State Senate and the State Assembly have held hearings and approved oversight measures for the system in response to a series of articles in The New York Times in June about the system. The articles described escapes, violence, security lapses, drug use and other problems at the halfway houses, some of which are as large as prisons.

July 29, 2012 Star-Ledger
Democrats must be salivating at the chance to expose a nefarious relationship between Gov. Chris Christie and his pal, William Palatucci, an executive with the company that runs New Jersey’s halfway houses. They’ve held legislative hearings to question Palatucci’s employer, Community Education Centers, about its troubled track record. So far, there’s no evidence of anything improper between the governor and his friend, and most of the problems reported in a recent New York Times investigation of CEC took place before Christie took office. But there’s enough concern about the company and its financial health that a closer look is in order. The state’s comptroller, Matthew Boxer, should investigate. These are our concerns: •
Crime: The newspaper report cited a pattern of escapes, gang activity, violence and drug use at CEC’s halfway houses in New Jersey — held up as a national model for helping inmates move smoothly back into the community. There have been more than 5,000 escapes and parole absconders from the halfway houses since 2005, the report said. In one facility, violence was so rampant that inmates asked to go back to prison. As New Jersey takes steps to keep nonviolent offenders out of state prisons, are we allowing a new level of violent incarceration take shape? •Finances: A federal lawsuit brought by a fired executive claims CEC defaulted on its debt in 2009 and was close to bankruptcy in 2010. Documents show deep staff cuts and, inside CEC, worries about meeting payroll. The company called those lies, though it acknowledges CEC has suffered in the economic downturn. What happens if the company that saw 7,700 inmates and parolees pass through its doors last year suddenly can’t pay its bills? •Influence: Does CEC have a guardian angel? Lawmakers were concerned enough about CEC’s finances to include a requirement in the state budget for quarterly reports on CEC’s operations and finances. But Christie used his line-item veto to strike part of those requirements, including the quarterly mandate. His office said it was “burdensome.” Palatucci, CEC’s senior vice president and general counsel, is a former law partner and close friend of Christie. Both insist they’ve never misused that relationship. “We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure the governor is insulated from any of the activities of the company in New Jersey,” Palatucci said. But did others? In an e-mail to a longtime investor after Christie was elected, CEO John Clancy boasted about Palatucci’s friendship. It’s not the first time there have been questions. After an audit last year criticized lax oversight of the halfway house program, the Department of Corrections tripled its inspections and started fining the company for escapes. Problems with escapes, violence and drugs have improved. Boxer’s office has said it will conduct a follow-up audit. That’s a start. What’s needed is a formal investigation, which has more latitude. The comptroller’s role as a government watchdog, which includes power to subpoena CEC’s records, could expose deep-seated money problems before they explode. Or, it could put lingering questions to rest. Either way, it’s a sensible next step. Boxer should have at it.

July 18, 2012 The Record
Senate Democrats released their witness list for tomorrow’s hearing into the state’s halfway house system. Matthew Boxer, the state comptroller, and Gary Lanigan, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, have been asked to testify, according to the Senate Democrats. Also on the list is John J. Clancy, chairman and CEO of Community Education Centers. Community Education Centers has been at the center of recent controversy over the state’s privately run halfway house system, which was the subject of a series of New York Times articles last month. The series focused on escapes and dangerous conditions inside the houses. The articles highlighted the connection between Community Education Centers – which operates six halfway houses in New Jersey – and Governor Christie. The company’s senior vice president is William J. Palatucci, Christie’s longtime friend and adviser. Christie’s office called the Times report “misleading,” but the governor also promised increased investigations into the privately run halfway houses. He later line-item vetoed a measure passed by the Legislature that would have required quarterly reports detailing halfway houses’ operations. Christie argued the reports need not be so frequent. The Kintock Group — another company that offers what it describes as “community corrections services” – has also been invited to make an appearance at tomorrow’s hearing. Its President and CEO, Diane DeBarri, is on the Senate committee’s witness list. The Kintock Group operates five centers in New Jersey. Other witnesses expected to testify include Thaddeus Caldwell, a former senior corrections investigator, and Derrick Watkins, the former deputy director of treatment at Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center. The Bo Robinson Center, operated by Community Education Centers, was one of the halfway houses at the center of The Times’ investigative series.

June 26, 2012 The Record
Governor Christie now faces two new chances to approve stronger state oversight of private halfway houses in addition to the promises he made for better monitoring following reports of escapes and abuse. Delaney Hall, a halfway house in Newark. The Legislature passed the two separate measures Monday, including one bill that had been dormant since 2004, giving Christie the power to approve or veto the pair of checks on private corrections contractors. Both the Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would require a full audit of the cost, delivery and procurement of any contract with the state Department of Corrections over $100,000. And both houses also passed a state budget bill that includes two paragraphs that mandate quarterly reports to the Legislature. Any private firm that runs a halfway house detention center would have to detail the number of inmates, number of escapes and steps taken to prevent inmates and parolees from slipping security. Christie promised action to better monitor halfway houses following this month's revelations about high numbers of escapees, some of whom fled and committed further crimes. Offenders deemed non-violent have been routinely assigned to halfway houses in recent years as an alternative to state-run prisons. The New York Times last week detailed reports of failures in halfway-house oversight, as well as allegations of abuse of inmates. Neither of the two reforms proposed by Democrats received a single Republican vote in either the Senate or Assembly. And there was no discussion in the lengthy debate on the budget about the requirement for reports from contractors, language written into the bill by Democrats. "It didn't even get a mention, with everything else going on," said Sen. Linda Greenstein, a Democrat representing Middlesex County, after she and fellow Senate Democrats overrode Republican opposition and approved the budget bill along party lines, 24 to 16. The 2004 proposal by Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, that requires the State Auditor review all private contracts with the Corrections Department, also passed along party lines in both houses. Christie has already signaled he will likely use his veto pen on the massive budget proposal – which includes several items at odds with the governor including a tax-credit plan and not his call for a direct income tax cut. The Governor's Office would not comment Monday on whether Christie would consider a veto of the Van Drew proposal. "I would hope he would not," Van Drew said, insisting he had not planned to push the issue as a way to embarrass the governor. Van Drew said he originally introduced the idea of an audit in 2004, at a time when a number of privatized corrections facilities were opening in his legislative district in Cape May and Cumberland counties. The New York Times reported on June 17 that more than 5,100 inmates had escaped from private facilities since 2005. One of the firms now operating many halfway houses statewide, Community Education Centers, employs a close Christie ally, William Palatucci, as senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs. On the heels of the escapee reports, Van Drew's bill, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, as a co-sponsor, received swift committee hearings last week. Republicans in committee did not directly address the merits of examining corrections contracts, but focused their opposition on why demanding an audit from the independent auditor might slant the process.

December 21, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Immigrant advocates released a report Tuesday detailing what they describe as campaign contributions and hidden political ties behind the nonprofit group that subcontracts services for Delaney Hall, a private detention facility in Newark. The 19-page report comes almost a week after the Essex County freeholders awarded a lucrative immigrant-detention contract to the group, Education and Health Centers of America. Immigration advocates include in the report what they describe as "crony connections and a system of elected and un-elected political bosses in Essex County which limit transparency and oversight" surrounding the detention center. The report says Education and Health Centers and the for-profit Community Education Centers have been "skirting" pay-to-play laws and campaign-disclosure requirements through a "shell game." Education and Health Centers subcontracts private correctional services to Community Education Centers. Officials, however, criticized the report. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo issued a statement calling the county’s immigrant-detention contract a "creative revenue generator with the potential to create $250 million over five years." He added the report was an attempt to "discredit" the county’s contract with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Education and Health Centers spokesman Eric Shuffler said the report was "put out by groups with their own political agenda and it’s filled with mistakes, contradictions and unsubstantiated innuendo." He declined to go into detail about specific inaccuracies. The report lists more than $150,000 in campaign contributions to Essex County politicians by Community Education Centers and its CEO, John Clancy, a former county youth-services official who has donated to both state and county politicians. Clancy also heads Education and Health Centers but the two groups are legally separate entities, according to officials of both groups. Two groups authored the report — the New Jersey Advocates For Immigrant Detainees, and Enlace, a West Coast agency composed of community groups and unions that oppose for-profit correctional facilities. The former group is a broad-based coalition of 20 community, faith-based and advocacy agencies. According to the report, DiVincenzo received donations from Community Education Centers for years, beginning in 1999 with an $1,800 donation from Community Corrections Corp., the group’s former name. Since then, Community Education Centers and Clancy have donated to DiVincenzo, the Essex County Democratic Committee and at least three freeholders, among other elected officials, the report said. On Dec. 14, county freeholders gave Education and Health Centers a multimillion-dollar contract to house up to 450 immigrant detainees in Delaney Hall, a correctional facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark that is run by Community Education Centers. Immigrant advocate Karina Wilkinson said the contract "violates the spirit of pay-to-play." At the county level, the laws regulating pay-to-play only apply to no-bid contracts. Last week’s contract was open to bids, but only Education and Health Centers was the sole bidder. Tuesday's report cited similar concerns the state comptroller’s office raised about Education and Health Centers in June. The comptroller recommended the state Attorney General’s Office review the arrangement. The Attorney General’s Office did not return a call for comment Tuesday. Since 1994, Education and Health Centers and Community Education Centers have had an arrangement with the state that allows the nonprofit entity to subcontract nearly all its work to the for-profit one. Under state law, only nonprofit groups can be awarded contracts for private correctional services. The two companies’ arrangement with the state was in place years before the 2004 pay-to-play laws were enacted, said William Palatucci, senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs at Community Education Centers. Palatucci is also a close friend of Gov. Chris Christie’s. "Nobody could anticipate trying to skirt anything," Palatucci said.

October 11, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Essex County is preparing to rebid a contract for a deal with the federal government worth roughly a quarter-billion dollars to Essex County to house immigration detainees after it tossed out the previous sole bidder, a politically connected company. The first bidding process was ended after a letter from U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) questioned the fairness of the process. In July, Lautenberg wrote to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton citing concerns the county’s bidding process "may not be entirely fair, open and transparent." The letter came after the sole applicant, Education and Health Centers of America, landed the job. In a responding letter, obtained Monday by The Star-Ledger, ICE officials said they received assurance from Essex the bidding process to find a vendor for the lucrative contract to house detainees in the county was "conducted in a fair and reasonable manner." However, the federal agency also notes "ICE does not have the authority to review or enforce procurement laws or regulations at the state and local level," states the Aug. 4 letter. The county later threw out the controversial bid to house detainees in Delaney Hall in Newark and is now expected to advertise an overhauled proposal. The contract is expected to be worth $50 million annually for five years. This second round could differ significantly because Essex will be simultaneously seeking vendors to house two different groups: ICE detainees awaiting hearings or deportation, and county inmates receiving drug and alcohol treatment. A county spokesman said the new bid is being finalized and declined to say when exactly it would be open to bidders. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said during a freeholder meeting last week the county is "ready to go out to bid very shortly." Top officials at both the nonprofit EHCA and Community Education Centers, the for-profit company it contracts with, have made campaign contributions to DiVincenzo or are close allies of Gov. Chris Christie.

July 27, 2011 New York Times
Three weeks ago, Essex County, N.J., announced that it was seeking a company to run a 450-bed immigrant detention center, hoping to take advantage of a federally financed initiative to set up such facilities with better supervision and medical care. The county said the contracting process was open to any company. But behind the scenes, it appears that officials have a clear favorite: Community Education Centers, which has a checkered record in immigrant detention but counts one of Gov. Chris Christie’s closest confidants as a senior vice president. The company’s executives are also political backers of the county executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., a prominent ally of Mr. Christie. The county’s bidding rules specified that visitors to the detention center greet detainees “in the gymnasium” — a requirement that seemed to point to an existing facility, Delaney Hall in Newark, operated by Community Education Centers. Bidders were given 23 days to submit applications, an unusually short deadline for a multimillion-dollar contract. Community Education Centers itself seemed to act as if its selection were a done deal. The deadline for bids is Thursday, but the company posted advertisements on its Web site weeks ago to fill five jobs working with immigrant detainees at the facility. And this week, federal immigration officials and Community Education staff members gave tours of Delaney Hall to advocates for immigrants, telling them that it would probably be the new facility. The advocates were not shown other sites. Questioned about the selection process, Essex officials said the bidding was fair and open to any company. A spokesman for Mr. Christie said the governor’s office had no involvement in the contract. Federal and local officials have not indicated the size of the contract for the winning bidder, but it appears the total could amount to $8 million to $10 million annually. Government at all levels has pushed to privatize prisons and detention centers in recent decades, trying to save money and improve services. The federal government, which has been apprehending a growing number of immigrants, plans to use private companies to help overhaul a detention system that includes a patchwork of facilities. But privatized prisons and detention centers have at times became ensnared in scandals over mistreatment of their charges. In fact, Community Education Centers, based in West Caldwell, N.J., was seriously penalized in 2008 under an earlier contract to house immigrants at Delaney Hall. After an immigrant escaped, officials responded by removing the remaining 120 detainees from the company’s supervision and placing them in a public jail. Immigrant detention centers typically house immigrants, both legal and illegal, who are facing deportation because of visa violations or criminal convictions. With a shortage of beds in the Northeast, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced plans last year to house hundreds of detainees in Essex County. Officials said the detainees would have better access to lawyers and consulates, enabling the authorities to curb the transfer of detainees to distant places like Texas. Community Education’s senior vice president is William J. Palatucci, Mr. Christie’s political mentor and former law partner, and one of the state’s well-known Republican strategists. Mr. Palatucci was a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, and recommended to the Bush administration that it nominate Mr. Christie for United States attorney for New Jersey, a job he held from 2002 to 2009. Community Education and its executives are major supporters of Mr. DiVincenzo, one of the most powerful politicians in North Jersey. Community Education employees, including senior executives and several of their family members, have donated a total of $30,600 to Mr. DiVincenzo’s campaigns since 2006, according to disclosure records. Mr. DiVincenzo, the county executive since 2002, is also influential in Trenton. Though he is a Democrat, he has developed a close relationship with Mr. Christie, a Republican, who swore him in for his third term. Mr. DiVincenzo has said he agrees with 95 percent of what the governor is doing, and has broken ranks with his party to support Mr. Christie’s efforts to curb the pay and benefits of public employees. Mr. Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, said, “There is no basis whatsoever to bring the governor into this and doing so sounds like a total stretch.” Essex County’s counsel, James R. Paganelli, said neither Community Education nor any other company had the inside track for the contract. “We have a public bid looking for anybody who thinks they can provide these services,” Mr. Paganelli said. “I hope that this bid is as competitive as we can make it.” Mr. Paganelli said he expected as many as 30 companies to express interest, and he declined to speak about any bidder in particular. A Community Education spokesman, Christopher Greeder, said any claim that the company had “received favored status from Essex County is unfounded.” Mr. Greeder said Delaney Hall was fully accredited and had housed more than 80,000 individuals since its opening in 2000. Asked why the company had advertised for jobs at the detention center before it knew whether it had won the contract, he said: “As a private company, we often advertise for positions in advance of any contract award. We want to be prepared.” He added that there was no connection between campaign contributions given by company executives and government contracts. For their part, federal officials said they were already making plans to send immigrants to Delaney Hall because Essex specifically mentioned it in its proposal to the federal government. They were not aware that the county was considering other facilities, said Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency. Immigrant advocates called the contracting process severely flawed. Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee, said, “The idea that a company can advertise a job before they have the contract is offensive, because the stakes are so high.” Although the details are still being made final, Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to assign 800 immigrants to the Essex jail, which currently holds about 500, and plans to place an additional 450 detainees in Delaney Hall, which is nearby, Ms. Christensen said. To solicit bids, Essex County advertised in The Star-Ledger of Newark and posted the requirements on a county Web site, following standard procedure, according to Mr. Paganelli, the county counsel. He said county officials did not actively solicit companies to bid. By comparison, the New York State Office of General Services said that when the state issued contracts for specialized services, it advertised in multiple publications, posted the requirements online and contacted competing firms that perform similar services.

June 16, 2011 NJ 101.5
State Comptroller Matt Boxer is questioning the State Department of Corrections (DOC) about the state's largest halfway house provider, Education and Health Centers of America, Inc. (EHCA), because of its subcontracting arrangement with a for-profit company, Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC). Under state law, only non-profits can provide halfway house services. Boxer says EHCA pays CEC the entire contracted per diem rates. Of $400 million the state has paid EHCA since 1997, EHCA has paid CEC approximately $390 million to provide "all the services" under EHCA's public contracts, including the "operation, support services management and maintenance" of the facilities. "One of the issues that we found is that there are questions about the eligibility of one of those halfway houses to be a part of this program," explains Boxer. "We sent a letter to the Department of Corrections suggesting that on this issue they seek formal legal advice from the (State) Attorney General's Office and they've agreed to do that." Bill Palatucci is one of Governor Chris Christie's closest allies. He's a senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs at CEC and the director of development at EHCA. He says CEC has had no new contracts since 1998. "We're still operating under the same agreement that was approved by Attorney General back then, so we're a bit puzzled by the report," says Palatucci. "We'll take a look and talk to the Department of Corrections about it."

August 11, 2010 The Review
A lawsuit filed against the private operator of the Columbiana County Jail and the county commissioners has been dismissed, but remains against inmates who assaulted another inmate. Jeffrey Woodburn of Lisbon, formerly of Wellsville, filed the complaint in July 2009 over a July 2008 attack which occurred after he refused to bring tobacco and drugs to the other inmates when he returned to the lockup from work release. A recent judgment entry said the complaint was settled and dismissed against Community Education Centers Inc. and CiviGenics Texas, along with the county board of commissioners, only, at the defendant's costs. The entry didn't note the terms of the settlement. The case apparently remains against the inmates who were named as defendants in the lawsuit, including Aaron Holt of East Liverpool, David Crow of Wellsville and Derrick Howard of Youngstown. The claims against the jail operator and commissioners included alleged negligence and a security breach which Woodburn alleged led to the attack. The lawsuit said Woodburn reported the threats to jail personnel who placed him in protective custody in his own cell in a separate section of the jail. The document said security measures were breached on July 23, 2008 when Holt, Crow, Howard and possibly a fourth inmate were able to enter Woodburn's cell and beat him, requiring hospitalization.

July 8, 2010 The Star-Ledger
In a move certain to only increase speculation about Gov. Chris Christie’s political future beyond New Jersey, the Republican State Committee tonight elected Bill Palatucci, a close Christie friend, advisor and former law partner, as the state’s new male representative on the Republican National Committee. Palatucci, 52, replaces David Norcross, a former Republican State Committee chairman and 1976 U.S. Senate candidate who was elected committeeman in 1992. “I think in a small way I can just be the eyes and ears, not only for (Christie) but for the state party. Secondly, it’s nice to be able to be proud for New Jersey again and help export the ideas that are proving so successful right now in New Jersey down to the national scene,” said Palatucci. Palatucci denied speculation that Norcross, whose term does not end until 2012, was pressured to resign by Christie to make way for a close ally. “I think that’s unfair to David. David has been very clear that he was in his last term and he was always looking for the right time to step aside,” he said. Twenty-three of the state’s 42 Republican committee members showed up at the meeting at the Princeton Hyatt to vote for Palatucci by affirmation. Nobody else ran for the position and Norcross did not attend the meeting. Amanda Brown/The Star-LedgerDavid Norcross, in this 2004 file photo. Palatucci is senior vice president and general counsel for Community Education Centers in West Caldwell, which operates halfway houses for the reintegration of former prison inmates.

May 14, 2010 KXXV
McLennan County's new Jack Harwell detention facility was completed in February of this year, but now its 816 beds remain empty. The solution is to transfer the entire population of the downtown jail to the brand new facilities on Highway 6. The move is aimed to attract more outside contracts to send inmates to the Harwell facility, and at the same time begin generating revenue from the new jail in order to begin paying back the $49 million in bonds it cost to build. But it also means losing revenue generated by the downtown jail; revenue which goes to the county's general fund, and belongs to the taxpayers. Ken Witt, president of the McLennan County Sheriff's Office Association, says the action doesn't do anything to create new revenue. "It's not going to matter whether you transfer the downtown out there or just pay it straight. It's going to be the money that was originally already generated and it's not going to be new money," Witt said. Community Education Centers, the company charged with managing the jail, has agreed to pay the county $40,000 a month to mitigate the nearly $60,000 in revenue the downtown jail was earning. But some, like TEA Party member Marie McClellan, are afraid the agreement is too complex for taxpayers to understand. "This is our money. I'm not certain who authorized this and where this is going. Is this a business venture? Are the taxpayers on the hook for this? If they can't find the population who pays for this, eventually?," McClellan said. The Harwell unit will have until December to reach 90 percent occupancy, about 734 inmates, before the downtown jail can be reopened and begin generating revenue once more. But what happens if the beds still aren't filled? Precinct One commissioner Kelly Snell, who voted against the action, says it's time for a Plan B. "Not only have we spent $49 million, but now we're getting less money than we projected to get to start with. Now we really need to get an exit plan, because like I said today, what happens if this don't work?," Snell said. McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis told News Channel 25 by phone that Harris county and a dozen other entities have already pledged to send inmates to the new jail, and he hopes to have both jails full and making money within a few months.

April 23, 2010 Waco Tribune-Herald
The new jail on State Highway 6 has an impressively low detention population: zero. The 816-bed Jack Harwell Detention Center officially was completed in February. But Community Education Centers, the New Jersey-based detention company under contract to manage and operate the jail, has been unable to secure agreements with state and federal agencies to house inmates. Meanwhile, CEC must begin repaying the $49 million in project revenue bonds that financed the construction of the jail. The $313,000 monthly debt service is to be paid using revenue from housing inmates, placing the company under a crunch to fill beds. While funds already have been set aside for the first payment of $1.9 million due in June, CEC must begin making revenue soon or risk defaulting on the bonds. Doing so would mean the county loses the new jail. CEC wants some relief from the county to cover the financial obligation, but some commissioners say getting involved could end up costing taxpayers. County Judge Jim Lewis, Commissioner Ray Meadows and former Commissioner Wendall Crunk voted for the construction of the new jail. Commissioners Lester Gibson and Joe Mashek voted against it. Fewer inmates -- Feasibility studies conducted in 2008 showed the county would need 1,296 beds by the end of this year, slightly above the combined 1,260 capacity between the McLennan County Jail and the downtown jail. While the county faced severe overcrowding in 2008, there were only 860 inmates in the county jail Thursday afternoon, with 20 inmates at the CEC-run downtown jail. Peter Argeropulos, CEC senior vice president, reported the dilemma to the McLennan County Commissioners Court on Thursday. CEC began reaching out to agencies in the fall only to find that few prison facilities were housing inmates outside their facilities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for example, scrapped plans for a new fugitive apprehension unit in Waco. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice began pulling its inmates from private detention centers in August. “What we expected and what the studies had indicated have not materialized at this point,” Argeropulos said. Solutions debated -- One option Argeropulos suggested was to close down the 329-bed downtown jail and transfer the staff and inmates to the Jack Harwell Detention Center. The move would help CEC pay debt service but also cause the county to lose as much as $400,000 from the operation of the downtown jail. “Your plan’s not working, and it’s not working because you can’t get the prisoners, so you’re coming to the court wanting concessions that are going to cost the taxpayers money,” Commissioner Kelly Snell said. “That’s where I have a problem.” CEC Warden Mike Wilson, who oversees the downtown jail and would head the new jail, said moving the inmates would help address safety concerns at the facility. “All of a sudden, once you get a new car, that old car you got isn’t worth driving anymore, that’s the bottom line,” Snell said. Argeropulos also asked the court to temporarily waive an administrative fee of $2 per inmate per day CEC is to pay to the county until revenue exceeds operation costs. “I don’t see why the county has to be asked to bend over and do all the compromise,” Gibson said. “I think that some of the burden should be upon your side to do what you can to ease the burden.” Another option Argeropulos raised is to sign an interlocal agreement with Harris County, which is battling serious overcrowding issues. Harris County has transferred about 650 inmates to Newton County, with another 450 housed in Bowie County and 200 in Louisiana. CEC had a six-month agreement to house 320 Harris County inmates that expired in February. But CEC did not get any inmates during that period. Argeropulos said Harris County was willing to pay only $45 per person per day to house inmates at the Jack Harwell Detention Center, lower than the $54.50 rate CEC originally expected. “Right now, it’s a buyers’ market,” Argeropulos said. “As beds become vacant, people can become a little more picky in terms of who they want to negotiate with and what’s the best rate they can get.” Argeropulos said CEC intends to apply for a bid to house federal inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is expecting to need up to 3,000 beds later this year, a proposal that may likely net higher housing revenue, he said. “It’s not a new revelation, it’s been in newspapers nationwide that facilities are lacking prisoners,” Lewis said. “It’s not an ideal situation, but anybody who’s been in this business knows that there’s ups and downs on it. . . . The population will go up not only here but nationwide. The industry just keeps on growing.” Long-term outlook -- Still, Argeropulos said CEC would not open the jail until it had secured enough inmates to sufficiently cover the debt service and operational costs. The bond package includes a $4 million reserve fund that will cover about a year of payments. However, that fund can only be accessed if there are no inmates in the facility, Argeropulos said. CEC exercised an escape clause last month to pull out of managing Johnson County jails with one more year to go on a three-year contract. Argeropulos said Johnson County’s jail population had dropped by 25 percent, causing CEC to lose money. Herbert Bristow, attorney for the county, said if CEC defaulted on repaying the bonds, the county would not be liable to make payments. The McLennan County Public Facility Corp., a seven-member board including the commissioners court, issued the bonds in 2009. “It was done by design to insulate the county,” Bristow said. “But the end result is if it’s a doomsday deal, and we can’t find any prisoners to put in it . . . the bondholders have the right to take the property back and get whatever value there is in it.” Argeropulos said he would bring the court a formal proposal for action later this month. Mashek said the discussion reinforced the concerns he expressed in 2008 when he voted against the new jail. “It looks like they’re trying to cover up problems they’re having and wanting the county to bail them out, and I’m not in a position to bail anybody out, especially CEC,” Mashek said.

March 6, 2010 Philadelphia Enquirer
Saying it is owed $7.3 million, Aramark Corp., the Philadelphia food-services provider, has sued a New Jersey operator of correctional facilities. In the suit, Aramark contends Community Education Centers Inc., of West Caldwell, N.J., has been in default on bills since at least June 2008. Locally, Aramark services Community Education Centers facilities in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Reading, and Trenton. Aramark's lawsuit, filed Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, said Community Education Centers was overdue on $5.2 million of the total, and it requested that a judgment, including interest, costs, and attorney's fees, be entered in its favor. In an e-mailed statement yesterday, Community Education Centers said it "does not comment on pending litigation except to say that the two companies are in negotiations regarding the matter." Community Education Centers is one of a number of companies considered likely to bid on a prison privatization contract in Camden County. Last year, a unit of the company bought options on land in Camden as a potential site for a new prison, but the site has been ruled out by county freeholders because of neighborhood protests. The privately held company, which operates in 19 states, employs 4,500 and services nearly 30,000 individuals, did not comment specifically on the proposed privatization of Camden County's prison system. Among Community Education Centers' investors is Philadelphia private-equity firm LLR Partners. The firm's investment fund, LLR Equity Partners II L.P., in 2007 bought $53 million worth of preferred stock, according to a regulatory filing. LLR cofounder Seth Lehr, who is on Community Education Centers' board of directors, said the firm does not comment on companies in its portfolio.

June 21, 2009 The Star-Ledger
John Lynch, a former New Jersey state Senate president, was recently released to a halfway house after serving a jail term. Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie is constantly boasting of his success in locking up crooked pols when he was U.S. attorney. And for him, Exhibit A is former Senate president John Lynch. The Middlesex County Democratic boss pleaded guilty to corruption charges and went to federal prison under Christie's watch. Lynch was released last week and transferred to a Newark halfway house to begin his return to society. But in his new housing assignment, The Auditor noticed something fascinating: The disgraced former senator is being housed at Logan Hall, a facility owned and operated by Community Education Centers, where Bill Palatucci, Christie's top fund-raiser and political consigliere, is a key executive. "It is kind of ironic, I guess," said Palatucci, CEC's senior vice president and general counsel. "There is one and only federal halfway house in New Jersey. And the U.S. Attorney's Office has no role in deciding where an inmate goes. But there are not a lot of options. It was unavoidable, I guess." Palatucci said CEC is pulling down $68 a day from the feds to cover Lynch's housing costs.

May 21, 2007 New York Times
A company based in New Jersey that provides training and treatment programs to prison inmates is announcing today that it has bought a similar Massachusetts company, creating one of the largest correctional services companies in the country. The two companies — Community Education Centers of Roseland, N.J., and CiviGenics of Marlborough, Mass. — are trying to capitalize on the growing number of inmates and tight financing for new prisons that have led federal, state and local governments to contract out more of their operations to private businesses. States have also addressed the shortage of prison space by trying to reduce recidivism with more training and treatment programs for inmates. About 70 percent of those released from prison return within three years, according to some studies. “There’s a tremendous focus on the re-entry of inmates,” said John J. Clancy, chief executive of Community Education Centers. “If people are going to continue to get out of prison, the question is how they get out.” The two privately held companies, which together are expected to employ about 3,500 people in 22 states and have close to $240 million in revenue next year, did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement. However, people with knowledge of the transaction said Community Education Centers paid more than $100 million for CiviGenics.

Delaney Hall
Essex County, New Jersey
Community Education Centers

Essex County immigrant detention center a house of controversy: Chris Megerian, The Star-Ledger. Despite the barbed wire snaking across the top of its perimeter fence, Delaney Hall is not a traditional lock-up.

August 21, 2012 AP
The New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association has filed a lawsuit that seeks to end a contract between Essex County and a private company that operates halfway houses. The suit filed Monday alleges that Delaney Hall, a Newark facility operated by Education Health Centers of America, is jeopardizing public safety. It also questions the nonprofit status of the firm, which has a sub-contracting arrangement with the for-profit Community Education Centers. The suit alleges that Essex County moves inmates to a lower-security facility run by EHCA in order to use its county jail space for a more lucrative federal detainee contract. After-hours messages left for EHCA and CEC officials on Tuesday night were not returned.

June 26, 2012 The Record
Governor Christie now faces two new chances to approve stronger state oversight of private halfway houses in addition to the promises he made for better monitoring following reports of escapes and abuse. Delaney Hall, a halfway house in Newark. The Legislature passed the two separate measures Monday, including one bill that had been dormant since 2004, giving Christie the power to approve or veto the pair of checks on private corrections contractors. Both the Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would require a full audit of the cost, delivery and procurement of any contract with the state Department of Corrections over $100,000. And both houses also passed a state budget bill that includes two paragraphs that mandate quarterly reports to the Legislature. Any private firm that runs a halfway house detention center would have to detail the number of inmates, number of escapes and steps taken to prevent inmates and parolees from slipping security. Christie promised action to better monitor halfway houses following this month's revelations about high numbers of escapees, some of whom fled and committed further crimes. Offenders deemed non-violent have been routinely assigned to halfway houses in recent years as an alternative to state-run prisons. The New York Times last week detailed reports of failures in halfway-house oversight, as well as allegations of abuse of inmates. Neither of the two reforms proposed by Democrats received a single Republican vote in either the Senate or Assembly. And there was no discussion in the lengthy debate on the budget about the requirement for reports from contractors, language written into the bill by Democrats. "It didn't even get a mention, with everything else going on," said Sen. Linda Greenstein, a Democrat representing Middlesex County, after she and fellow Senate Democrats overrode Republican opposition and approved the budget bill along party lines, 24 to 16. The 2004 proposal by Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, that requires the State Auditor review all private contracts with the Corrections Department, also passed along party lines in both houses. Christie has already signaled he will likely use his veto pen on the massive budget proposal – which includes several items at odds with the governor including a tax-credit plan and not his call for a direct income tax cut. The Governor's Office would not comment Monday on whether Christie would consider a veto of the Van Drew proposal. "I would hope he would not," Van Drew said, insisting he had not planned to push the issue as a way to embarrass the governor. Van Drew said he originally introduced the idea of an audit in 2004, at a time when a number of privatized corrections facilities were opening in his legislative district in Cape May and Cumberland counties. The New York Times reported on June 17 that more than 5,100 inmates had escaped from private facilities since 2005. One of the firms now operating many halfway houses statewide, Community Education Centers, employs a close Christie ally, William Palatucci, as senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs. On the heels of the escapee reports, Van Drew's bill, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, as a co-sponsor, received swift committee hearings last week. Republicans in committee did not directly address the merits of examining corrections contracts, but focused their opposition on why demanding an audit from the independent auditor might slant the process.

December 22, 2011 Queens Chronicle
City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) held a hearing on Tuesday to investigate the treatment of immigrants at detention centers throughout the city, many of which are privately operated. One, at 182-22 150 Ave. in Jamaica, run by Geo Group, a private company, has been the subject of public debate since as early as 2004, when hunger strikes occurred at the center. Five years later, two guards there were convicted of covering up the beating of an inmate, according to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Over a dozen people testified at the hearing, among them immigrants detained at the facilities, immigration lawyers and immigration advocacy groups. They alleged that a slew of abuses have occurred at the facilities, including sexual abuse by guards, detainees being denied the right to access their attorneys, lack of medical care and being detained for periods longer than six months without being charged. “It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Forest Hills immigration attorney Naresh Gehi of the amount of time his client, Taimur Hussain, has been detained. Hussain, who lived with his family in Astoria before being jailed nine months ago, moved to the country illegally in 1995. He is being held in a facility called the Delancey Detention Center in New Jersey, Gehi said, and has no criminal record. “He has two American children, they’re completely displaced,” Gehi added. Many undocumented immigrants at these facilities have no criminal record, according to Dromm. Some are asylum seekers while others may have been caught during Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on workplaces, for example. “You have people who have not committed a crime,” Dromm said, “but they’re being thrown into prison-like conditions.” Dromm and de Blasio would like tours of the facilities in New York. They would also like the Department of Homeland Security, which Dromm said oversees the centers, to make what goes on inside them more transparent. Both have called on a Department of Justice investigation into the matter. “Geo has refused to make any statements at all,” Dromm said. “We want to know what they’re doing at that Jamaica facility.”

December 21, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Immigrant advocates released a report Tuesday detailing what they describe as campaign contributions and hidden political ties behind the nonprofit group that subcontracts services for Delaney Hall, a private detention facility in Newark. The 19-page report comes almost a week after the Essex County freeholders awarded a lucrative immigrant-detention contract to the group, Education and Health Centers of America. Immigration advocates include in the report what they describe as "crony connections and a system of elected and un-elected political bosses in Essex County which limit transparency and oversight" surrounding the detention center. The report says Education and Health Centers and the for-profit Community Education Centers have been "skirting" pay-to-play laws and campaign-disclosure requirements through a "shell game." Education and Health Centers subcontracts private correctional services to Community Education Centers. Officials, however, criticized the report. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo issued a statement calling the county’s immigrant-detention contract a "creative revenue generator with the potential to create $250 million over five years." He added the report was an attempt to "discredit" the county’s contract with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Education and Health Centers spokesman Eric Shuffler said the report was "put out by groups with their own political agenda and it’s filled with mistakes, contradictions and unsubstantiated innuendo." He declined to go into detail about specific inaccuracies. The report lists more than $150,000 in campaign contributions to Essex County politicians by Community Education Centers and its CEO, John Clancy, a former county youth-services official who has donated to both state and county politicians. Clancy also heads Education and Health Centers but the two groups are legally separate entities, according to officials of both groups. Two groups authored the report — the New Jersey Advocates For Immigrant Detainees, and Enlace, a West Coast agency composed of community groups and unions that oppose for-profit correctional facilities. The former group is a broad-based coalition of 20 community, faith-based and advocacy agencies. According to the report, DiVincenzo received donations from Community Education Centers for years, beginning in 1999 with an $1,800 donation from Community Corrections Corp., the group’s former name. Since then, Community Education Centers and Clancy have donated to DiVincenzo, the Essex County Democratic Committee and at least three freeholders, among other elected officials, the report said. On Dec. 14, county freeholders gave Education and Health Centers a multimillion-dollar contract to house up to 450 immigrant detainees in Delaney Hall, a correctional facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark that is run by Community Education Centers. Immigrant advocate Karina Wilkinson said the contract "violates the spirit of pay-to-play." At the county level, the laws regulating pay-to-play only apply to no-bid contracts. Last week’s contract was open to bids, but only Education and Health Centers was the sole bidder. Tuesday's report cited similar concerns the state comptroller’s office raised about Education and Health Centers in June. The comptroller recommended the state Attorney General’s Office review the arrangement. The Attorney General’s Office did not return a call for comment Tuesday. Since 1994, Education and Health Centers and Community Education Centers have had an arrangement with the state that allows the nonprofit entity to subcontract nearly all its work to the for-profit one. Under state law, only nonprofit groups can be awarded contracts for private correctional services. The two companies’ arrangement with the state was in place years before the 2004 pay-to-play laws were enacted, said William Palatucci, senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs at Community Education Centers. Palatucci is also a close friend of Gov. Chris Christie’s. "Nobody could anticipate trying to skirt anything," Palatucci said.

October 11, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Essex County is preparing to rebid a contract for a deal with the federal government worth roughly a quarter-billion dollars to Essex County to house immigration detainees after it tossed out the previous sole bidder, a politically connected company. The first bidding process was ended after a letter from U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) questioned the fairness of the process. In July, Lautenberg wrote to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton citing concerns the county’s bidding process "may not be entirely fair, open and transparent." The letter came after the sole applicant, Education and Health Centers of America, landed the job. In a responding letter, obtained Monday by The Star-Ledger, ICE officials said they received assurance from Essex the bidding process to find a vendor for the lucrative contract to house detainees in the county was "conducted in a fair and reasonable manner." However, the federal agency also notes "ICE does not have the authority to review or enforce procurement laws or regulations at the state and local level," states the Aug. 4 letter. The county later threw out the controversial bid to house detainees in Delaney Hall in Newark and is now expected to advertise an overhauled proposal. The contract is expected to be worth $50 million annually for five years. This second round could differ significantly because Essex will be simultaneously seeking vendors to house two different groups: ICE detainees awaiting hearings or deportation, and county inmates receiving drug and alcohol treatment. A county spokesman said the new bid is being finalized and declined to say when exactly it would be open to bidders. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said during a freeholder meeting last week the county is "ready to go out to bid very shortly." Top officials at both the nonprofit EHCA and Community Education Centers, the for-profit company it contracts with, have made campaign contributions to DiVincenzo or are close allies of Gov. Chris Christie.

September 22, 2011
August 16, 2011 The Star-Ledger
The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is re-examining its deal with Essex County to house 1,250 immigrant detainees after the county announced it would throw out a controversial bid to hold them in a private facility run by a politically-connected firm. Days after signing a five-year contract with ICE, county officials said today they will seek another round of bids from vendors after only receiving one application for the project from Education and Health Centers of America, a nonprofit with ties to both Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and Gov. Chris Christie. Essex County officials said they now hope to secure a vendor by January. In the wake of the county’s announcement this afternoon, the immigration agency said it had not been informed of the change and released a terse statement. "ICE may need to renegotiate or modify the terms of our current (agreement) with the county," said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. But county officials tried to downplay the change. "The public bid we issued for a vendor to house immigration detainees in a private facility was canceled, because Essex can save $600,000 by using an existing contract," DiVincenzo said in a written statement. In response to ICE’s plan to re-evaluate the deal, DiVincenzo said there must be some confusion, and he would contact the agency in the morning. "We already have a contract (with ICE). … I don’t know where they’re coming from," he said last night. For about five years, the county has had a contract with Delaney Hall, a private correctional facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark run by the for-profit Community Education Centers. Now the county will house immigrant detainees there under the existing contract, which ends Dec. 31. CEC contracts with the nonprofit Education and Health Centers of America, which in July put in a bid to house 450 ICE detainees at the facility. County officials said the move would also save about $17 a day for each detainee under the old contract. After the contract expires, detainees there could be relocated if another bidder is selected. The rest of the detainees will be housed at the county jail. "This does seem really odd. Really odd," said Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program with the Newark chapter of the American Friends Service Committee. "It does make me think that the exposure of the unorthodox bidding process, the non-transparency of the bidding process, has maybe raised some questions." Gottlieb and others, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg, criticized the bid process calling for more transparency. The county came under fire after the Education and Health Centers of America was the only bidder for the contract. John Clancy, a former county youth services official, heads both the Education and Health Centers of America and the Community Education Centers and has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of county and state officials. In addition to Clancy, a close friend and former law-firm colleague of the governor, William Palatucci, serves as a senior vice president for Community Education Centers. Today, Palatucci referred most questions to the county. "We currently have a contractual relationship with Essex County through the end of the year. We’ll have to wait and see to see what happens," he said. Palatucci emphasized the company’s long relationship with county government. "We have a good, strong track record for 11 years. We’d expect that to continue in one shape or form going forward," he said. Ralph Caputo, vice president of the county freeholder board and chairman of the public safety committee, said the freeholders will review the contract with ICE at their Wednesday meeting. He said the bid from Education and Health Centers of America may not have been the best fit because of the timing. The ICE contract is for five years, while the bid from Education and Health Centers of America was for two years with an option to extend it. Caputo said although the bid process has been controversial, he thinks the county is trying to do it right. "I don’t think any of it was wrong," he said. "I think they just went a little too fast." DiVincenzo also said that Philip Alagia will serve in a new position as county director of ICE programs, adding $30,000 to his $108,645 salary as DiVincenzo’s chief of staff.

August 12, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Essex County and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have signed a new, five-year agreement that could nearly triple the number of federal immigration detainees being held in Newark and generate as much as $50 million a year for the county, ICE officials said today. Under the contract, up to 1,250 detainees would be held at the Essex County Jail and the privately-run Delaney Hall. About 465 detainees are now held at the jail on an average day. Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the deal was signed Thursday. Anthony Puglisi, a spokesman for Essex County, said yesterday the county would have no comment until it officially announces the deal. The county freeholders still need to sign off on the agreement. Christensen said the contract calls for Essex County to receive $108 per detainee per day over the life of the contract. A similar arrangement, drawn up in 2008 at the rate of $105 per detainee per day, generated about $22 million for the county last year and is expected to bring in nearly $28 million this year, officials have said. The financial arrangement has come under fire from opponents to federal immigration policy, who say that the county is profiting from misguided mandates. "Essex County has shown that profits come before human rights," said Karina Wilkinson, a co-founder of the Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights and a frequent critic of Essex County’s detention policies. "We are disappointed that the Obama administration is continuing to expand detention and deportation to record levels, tearing communities apart." The new contract gives ICE access to 800 beds at the county jail and up to 450 beds at the adjacent Delaney Hall, Christensen said. In recent weeks, detractors have argued the specifications in the county’s bid request seeking housing for an additional 450 detainees was tailor-made for a politically connected company. Education and Health Centers of America, based in Wall Township, submitted the only bid. The non-profit firm has contracted with the county to provide rehabilitation and other services for more than a decade. In January, the county freeholders renewed a $20 million jail-services contract with EHCA. The bulk of those services are run out of Delaney Hall, a residential facility for criminal offenders that prepares them for re-entry into society. Although EHCA is a nonprofit, it subcontracted its service contracts to Community Education Centers, a for-profit company with which it is affiliated, according to state officials. Both companies are headed by John Clancy, a former county youth services official who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign of county and state officials, according to state elections records. Freeholder Ralph Caputo said the board would meet with county administrators as soon as Monday to discuss both the contract and EHCA’s bid. "The basic objective is we want to be able to benefit the county with a tremendous amount of revenue, but we want to do it appropriately," Caputo said today. "There are a lot of specifics that have to addressed."

July 27, 2011 New York Times
Three weeks ago, Essex County, N.J., announced that it was seeking a company to run a 450-bed immigrant detention center, hoping to take advantage of a federally financed initiative to set up such facilities with better supervision and medical care. The county said the contracting process was open to any company. But behind the scenes, it appears that officials have a clear favorite: Community Education Centers, which has a checkered record in immigrant detention but counts one of Gov. Chris Christie’s closest confidants as a senior vice president. The company’s executives are also political backers of the county executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., a prominent ally of Mr. Christie. The county’s bidding rules specified that visitors to the detention center greet detainees “in the gymnasium” — a requirement that seemed to point to an existing facility, Delaney Hall in Newark, operated by Community Education Centers. Bidders were given 23 days to submit applications, an unusually short deadline for a multimillion-dollar contract. Community Education Centers itself seemed to act as if its selection were a done deal. The deadline for bids is Thursday, but the company posted advertisements on its Web site weeks ago to fill five jobs working with immigrant detainees at the facility. And this week, federal immigration officials and Community Education staff members gave tours of Delaney Hall to advocates for immigrants, telling them that it would probably be the new facility. The advocates were not shown other sites. Questioned about the selection process, Essex officials said the bidding was fair and open to any company. A spokesman for Mr. Christie said the governor’s office had no involvement in the contract. Federal and local officials have not indicated the size of the contract for the winning bidder, but it appears the total could amount to $8 million to $10 million annually. Government at all levels has pushed to privatize prisons and detention centers in recent decades, trying to save money and improve services. The federal government, which has been apprehending a growing number of immigrants, plans to use private companies to help overhaul a detention system that includes a patchwork of facilities. But privatized prisons and detention centers have at times became ensnared in scandals over mistreatment of their charges. In fact, Community Education Centers, based in West Caldwell, N.J., was seriously penalized in 2008 under an earlier contract to house immigrants at Delaney Hall. After an immigrant escaped, officials responded by removing the remaining 120 detainees from the company’s supervision and placing them in a public jail. Immigrant detention centers typically house immigrants, both legal and illegal, who are facing deportation because of visa violations or criminal convictions. With a shortage of beds in the Northeast, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced plans last year to house hundreds of detainees in Essex County. Officials said the detainees would have better access to lawyers and consulates, enabling the authorities to curb the transfer of detainees to distant places like Texas. Community Education’s senior vice president is William J. Palatucci, Mr. Christie’s political mentor and former law partner, and one of the state’s well-known Republican strategists. Mr. Palatucci was a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, and recommended to the Bush administration that it nominate Mr. Christie for United States attorney for New Jersey, a job he held from 2002 to 2009. Community Education and its executives are major supporters of Mr. DiVincenzo, one of the most powerful politicians in North Jersey. Community Education employees, including senior executives and several of their family members, have donated a total of $30,600 to Mr. DiVincenzo’s campaigns since 2006, according to disclosure records. Mr. DiVincenzo, the county executive since 2002, is also influential in Trenton. Though he is a Democrat, he has developed a close relationship with Mr. Christie, a Republican, who swore him in for his third term. Mr. DiVincenzo has said he agrees with 95 percent of what the governor is doing, and has broken ranks with his party to support Mr. Christie’s efforts to curb the pay and benefits of public employees. Mr. Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, said, “There is no basis whatsoever to bring the governor into this and doing so sounds like a total stretch.” Essex County’s counsel, James R. Paganelli, said neither Community Education nor any other company had the inside track for the contract. “We have a public bid looking for anybody who thinks they can provide these services,” Mr. Paganelli said. “I hope that this bid is as competitive as we can make it.” Mr. Paganelli said he expected as many as 30 companies to express interest, and he declined to speak about any bidder in particular. A Community Education spokesman, Christopher Greeder, said any claim that the company had “received favored status from Essex County is unfounded.” Mr. Greeder said Delaney Hall was fully accredited and had housed more than 80,000 individuals since its opening in 2000. Asked why the company had advertised for jobs at the detention center before it knew whether it had won the contract, he said: “As a private company, we often advertise for positions in advance of any contract award. We want to be prepared.” He added that there was no connection between campaign contributions given by company executives and government contracts. For their part, federal officials said they were already making plans to send immigrants to Delaney Hall because Essex specifically mentioned it in its proposal to the federal government. They were not aware that the county was considering other facilities, said Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency. Immigrant advocates called the contracting process severely flawed. Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee, said, “The idea that a company can advertise a job before they have the contract is offensive, because the stakes are so high.” Although the details are still being made final, Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to assign 800 immigrants to the Essex jail, which currently holds about 500, and plans to place an additional 450 detainees in Delaney Hall, which is nearby, Ms. Christensen said. To solicit bids, Essex County advertised in The Star-Ledger of Newark and posted the requirements on a county Web site, following standard procedure, according to Mr. Paganelli, the county counsel. He said county officials did not actively solicit companies to bid. By comparison, the New York State Office of General Services said that when the state issued contracts for specialized services, it advertised in multiple publications, posted the requirements online and contacted competing firms that perform similar services.

March 25, 2011 The Star-Ledger
A Superior Court judge this morning sentenced a 31-year-old man to life in prison for strangling a fellow inmate at a private correctional facility in Newark, two days after the victim had been sent there on unpaid traffic tickets. A jury had convicted the man, Giancarlo Bonilla, of felony murder for the May 18, 2009, killing of Derek West Harris, a Newark barber who had been arrested for failing to pay $722 in traffic tickets. Instead of Essex County Jail, Harris was sent to Delaney Hall, considered a jail alternative for nonviolent offenders. Bonilla and two other men were charged in the killing, which happened while they were trying to rob Harris, who was 51 years old. They confronted Harris, who resisted. Bonilla kept the man in a minutes-long chokehold, killing him. The two other defendants pleaded guilty to robbery charges. "Defendant Bonilla preyed upon Derek West for a few cigarettes and fewer dollars," Superior Court Judge Peter Ryan said before imposing the sentence. "For this, a horrendous murder was perpetrated."

January 27, 2011 Star-Ledger
Someone, somewhere thought Derek West Harris would be safer in Delaney Hall — a private correctional facility for nonviolent offenders — rather than at a traditional jail, Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Guarino said Wednesday. Arrested for $722 in overdue traffic fines, the 51-year-old barber was sent to Delaney Hall in Newark, where he was attacked and strangled two days later on May 18, 2009. Three inmates were soon charged with his murder. "This could have happened to anybody," Guarino said after a Superior Court jury in Newark convicted Giancarlo Bonilla of the killing, which followed a botched attempt to steal $20 from Harris. "That’s the great tragedy of this case." Bonilla, 31, was found guilty of felony murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, and faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced March 18. He was acquitted of first-degree murder, essentially meaning the jury determined Bonilla did not intend to kill Harris, but caused his death in the act of committing a robbery.

June 3, 2009 Star-Ledger
On a Tuesday evening in Irvington, Derek West Harris saw the colored lights in the rearview mirror of his late-model Mazda Millennium and pulled over. Harris, a 51-year-old Newark barber, had bought the car two weeks earlier and didn't register or insure it before he put it on the road. He also owed $722 in back tickets, according to family members and corrections documents. Harris was arrested and later taken to Delaney Hall, a unique, private facility in Newark that opened nine years ago as an alternative to jail for Essex County's low-level offenders. Two days after he was shown his bed May 16 in Delaney Hall, Harris was dead. Three inmates -- Ibn Goodman, 18, Giancarlo Bonilla, 29, and Luis Gonzalez, 19 -- have been accused of beating and strangling Harris in the middle of the night, then robbing him of $20. His death is the first homicide committed at the facility since it opened, said Scott Faunce, director of the Essex County Department of Corrections. In comparison, there have only been two homicides in the state's 14 prisons since 2006, said Matt Schuman, a spokesman with the state Department of Corrections. The incident has sparked three investigations -- one by the private company that runs the 1,120-bed facility, one by Essex County, which paid the firm to operate the facility, and another by the state Department of Corrections, which inspected the facility for the first time in February, county officials said. They will look at who is placed in the facility and how inmates are grouped together, county and state officials said. As for Harris' family, they want to know why none of Delaney Hall's staff saw the fight and stopped it. "I still can't grasp what happened," said Terence Moore, 39, one of Harris' younger brothers. "Somebody goes in on a traffic ticket and doesn't make it out?" Inmate advocates also say they are concerned that Essex County has contracted a private corrections company that is allowed to operate and staff its facility with no accountability to state corrections authorities. "Anyone can end up there," said Penny Venetis, a Rutgers Law School professor who won a groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court ruling on behalf of detainees abused at a private facility in Elizabeth. "It should not have happened at all. They are getting our tax dollars to run these facilities." There are several other private corrections facilities in the state funded with public funds. Delaney Hall is one of the only ones that take jail inmates, said a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman. Freeholder Ralph Caputo, who chairs the freeholder board's public safety committee, said Camden County officials consider Delaney Hall a model facility and are studying it as they consider privatizing their jail. "It's been a very good program. Delaney Hall has worked in every way for Essex County," Caputo said. Delaney Hall's mission is to end recidivism through counseling and education, according to executives who manage the facility on Doremus Street. At the time of Harris' death, about 650 men and 70 women lived there, according to Essex County officials. "It's an alternative to prison in a therapeutic setting," said William Palatucci, senior vice president of Community Education Centers Inc. of West Caldwell. In Delaney Hall, inmates can receive job training and treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, said Palatucci. Inmates are not locked in their rooms at night, and they are offered incentives for good behavior, such as being able to order take-out one night a month. Unlike a jail, the facility is staffed only with counselors. Some are former inmates, which, a company spokesman said, is in keeping with the facility's mission to rehabilitate offenders. Laura Cohen, a Rutgers Law School professor who runs the school's Urban Legal Clinic, said what has attracted government entities to contracting private corrections companies is that many of them are not unionized. "State, counties and other jurisdictions have looked to these companies as cost-savings measures," Cohen said. The county is paying Education and Health Centers of America Inc. in Roseland, which contracts with Community Education Centers, up to $20 million a year to operate the facility, according to county records and company officials. Joe Amato, president of the Essex County corrections officers' union and a regular critic of Delaney Hall, said the facility's differences are what make it dangerous for its inmates. He contends that the staff monitoring inmates should be trained in law enforcement, just like other corrections officers who are required to spend 14 weeks at a training academy before working in a jail. The lack of training for staff is only exacerbated at Delaney Hall, Amato said, because people charged with serious crimes are housed with people charged with minor offenses. One of the main criteria used to determine if an inmate may be housed in Delaney Hall is the inmate's bail amount. Anyone with a bail of $75,000 or less is eligible, said Faunce. Harris had a previous drug conviction in 2007 for manufacturing and distributing less than half an ounce of cocaine, but was jailed for traffic violations, according to corrections records. Owing $722 in fines, Harris' bail was his outstanding ticket amounts. The suspects in Harris' death also met the bail criteria. Bonilla, arrested on drug and several weapons charges, had bail set at $75,000. He was released from South Woods State Prison in Cumberland County in September 2005 after serving a year and a half for a drug dealing conviction, according to state prison records. Goodman's bail was set at $70,000 after he was arrested on charges of distributing narcotics near a school, and Gonzalez was starting a four-year state sentence for a parole violation and had no bail set prior to being accused of Harris' murder, according to correction records. Amato said the county put as many inmates as possible in Delaney Hall to make room in the county jail for federal prisoners and detainees because the county makes money by housing these inmates. Essex County officials denied the allegation. "It is categorically untrue that as a result of a relationship with the federal programs that we were somehow pushing people into Delaney Hall in order to make room for revenue," Essex County Administrator Joyce Harley said. Faunce said the county would take a serious look at the result of the investigations, but that little could have been done to prevent Harris' death. "It could not be predicted, no matter what kind of screening process you have in place," he said.

East Jersey Prison
Rahway, New Jersey
Correctional Medical Services

February 22, 2009 Courier News
A state appeals court reinstated a lawsuit filed by a prisoner at East Jersey State Prison in which he contends that the company that provided medical treatment to inmates delayed giving him necessary back surgery. Cecil Fearon, 65, who is serving a 50-year sentence for drug trafficking, eventually underwent the surgery to fuse vertebrae, but the delay hurt his chances of a full recovery, he contends. Named as defendants are Correctional Medical Services and doctors involved in Fearon's case or connected to the company, Paul Talbot, Arlene Tinker, Manar Hanna, Lawrence Donkor, Richard Hellander and Ahab Gabriel. A call placed to the attorney for the defendants was returned by a Correctional Medical Services spokeswoman who declined comment, citing the ongoing litigation. A trial judge threw out Fearon's lawsuit, saying his medical negligence claims were outside the statute of limitations. The three-judge panel, which did not identify the trial judge in its opinion, ruled that the judge erred in dismissing Fearon's case. According to the opinion, Fearon received an MRI of his spine in August 2003 and March 2004 after complaints of difficulty walking and pain in his back. A doctor cleared him for surgery, “if approved,” according to the opinion. In June 2004, a neurological surgeon examined Fearon and recommended back surgery. The doctor, Anthony Churico, recommended it again in April 2005. It was not scheduled and performed until January 2006. “According to Dr. Churico, this delay in performing the surgery caused plaintiff's condition to worsen and compromised the results of the surgery,” the appeals panel wrote in its opinion. Fearon filed suit in May 2006. The state Department of Corrections replaced Correctional Medical Services in September with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Elizabeth Detention Center
Elizabeth, New Jersey
CCA (formerly run by Correctional Services Corporation, bought by GEO Group)

Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail by Nina Bernstein January 9, 2010 New York Times
April 27, 2010 RT
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency holds thousands of undocumented immigrants in prisons around the country, and the truth of what happens inside is a closely guarded secret. An industrial part of Elizabeth, New Jersey is the state’s largest jail for the undocumented, kept full courtesy of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE. Detainees inside usually face deportation, but in some cases, the outcome is much worse. Boubacar Bah, 52, slipped and fell in a shower inside the facility. According to his attorney, although he suffered a traumatic brain injury, his strange behavior was treated as “acting out.” As a result of his behavior, he was placed in solitary confinement. After suffering a solitary cell for more than 12 hours, he was rushed into emergency brain surgery. Doctors found that he had suffered multiple brain hemorrhages and a skull fracture. He fell into a coma, where he remained for four months before dying. Nearly three years later, family and friends are still waiting for answers as to why Bah was in the prison and how he died. “He had never been arrested. Never done nothing wrong. We want to know what happened to him. He was a human being,” said Moussa Dia, Bah’s friend. To US officials, the Guinean immigrant was a criminal. He lived in New York for roughly eight years with an expired work visa. In 2006, Bah paid a visit to his native land under a special Green Card program, but on his way back, he was detained and locked up by ICE officials. “Right now, ICE is only accountable to itself. It engages in self policing. Therefore third parties can’t sue to enforce their own internal standards. ICE just has its own standards, and it can choose to follow them or not,” said Venita Gupta, an attorney with the ACLU based in New York. An estimated 380,000 immigrants were imprisoned last year–up 300 percent from a decade ago–and punishing them can be profitable for the Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA. The nation’s largest private prison provider is subcontracted by ICE to operate more than 60 facilities, including the New Jersey jail where Boubacar Bah was last seen alive. “There’s been a huge, huge increase and its part of the prison industrial complex in this country, and the growth of prisons and the growth of private prison contractors that get these very meaty contracts by the government and they are making a lot of money running these facilities,” said Gupta. In 2008, CCA made just under $1.6 billion. Meanwhile, ICE is requesting a budget increase from Washington. They are hoping to get $5.8 billion for the next fiscal year. However, a price tag can’t be put on Boubacar Bah’s life, and the official word from ICE is that the case is still pending.

February 12, 2010 Art Threat
In solidarity with the detainees currently on hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions at the Los Fresnos immigration jail (Port Isabel, TX), I’m highlighting Homeland Guantanamos. Much more than an educational online game, this project documents actual detainees’ stories and the abuses they endured while in detention. Approximately 300,000 immigrants both legal and illegal are being detained in the U.S., many without conviction of any crime. This non-linear storytelling/investigative project invites players to discover what’s really happening on the inside. The game’s assignment: go undercover by working as a prison guard and find the truth about what happened to Boubacar Bah, an immigrant from Ghinea who died while in ICE custody May 30, 2007. Free Range Studios built the virtual facility to match the Elizabeth Detention Center (run by the private company Corrections Corporation of America) where Bah was detained and designed the story around the actual events and people involved. While exploring each room, I found clues to help solve the case including embedded video interviews with Bah’s friends and family, his fellow detainees and their families. The video and written evidence reveal human rights abuses that mimic those committed at Guantanamo and other U.S. secret prisons. Partnering with Free Range Studios, the international human rights organization Breakthrough used this project to launch a national engagement campaign. Included on the site are innumerable ways to take action, a memorial wall for the 87 immigrants who’ve died while in detention and a searchable U.S. map that locates local Gitmos by zip code. The article that triggered this project along with the recently released video What Really Happened to Boubacar Bah can both be found here. Spreading, creating or participating in projects as informative and comprehensive as this encourages the beginning of the end of real homeland Guantanamos.

June 22, 2008 The Record
Immigration advocates on Thursday denounced the immigrant detention system as inhumane and expressed support for a proposed bill that aims to improve medical care for detainees. Standing across the street from the Elizabeth Detention Center, a converted warehouse in Elizabeth that holds some 300 non-criminal detainees, the advocates cited recent published reports that said more than 60 people have died in recent years while in the custody of immigration officials. "The lack of federal immigration reform has contributed to the death of these detainees," said Shai Goldstein, executive director of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network. "That is unacceptable and un-American." The group of a couple dozen advocates, about half of whom were clergy, said they wanted to draw attention to legislation introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., that establishes procedures for medical services to immigrant detainees. Describing the medical care at immigrant detention centers as a haphazard one that has denied detainees adequate — and even lifesaving — medication, Menendez says the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act would ensure that detention would "never amount to a death sentence." Officials of the Newark office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the center, declined comment on the accusations about medical care, citing pending litigation. But, ICE spokesman Harold Ort said: "ICE meets the highest standards of law enforcement." At one point during the press conference, two employees of Corrections Corporation of America, the private contractor that operates the center, walked toward the group and asked questions of some people, including reporters, including their names and the advocates' purpose. One of the employees, a man whose name tag said "Dickerson," jotted down notes while looking at the group. CCA later confirmed that T. Dickerson is the center's assistant warden. "Is that Jim McGreevey?" asked the other employee, a woman. Dickerson looked at McGreevey, then scribbled in his notebook. James McGreevey, the former governor and current student at an Episcopal seminary in New York, said only that he was there as a parishioner of All Saints Episcopal Parish in Hoboken, with All Saints' pastor, Jeff Curtis. Later, the advocates assailed the CCA employees, saying their presence was meant to intimidate.Several advocates said they visit the detainees in the center and have heard and seen some troubling things firsthand. The conference was part of a national event, "A Night of One Thousand Conversations," meant to spotlight concerns about immigrant detention and enforcement actions by immigration agents.

May 5, 2008 New York Times
Word spread quickly inside the windowless walls of the Elizabeth Detention Center, an immigration jail in New Jersey: A detainee had fallen, injured his head and become incoherent. Guards had put him in solitary confinement, and late that night, an ambulance had taken him away more dead than alive. But outside, for five days, no official notified the family of the detainee, Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea who had overstayed a tourist visa. When frantic relatives located him at University Hospital in Newark on Feb. 5, 2007, he was in a coma after emergency surgery for a skull fracture and multiple brain hemorrhages. He died there four months later without ever waking up, leaving family members on two continents trying to find out why. Mr. Bah’s name is one of 66 on a government list of deaths that occurred in immigration custody from January 2004 to November 2007, when nearly a million people passed through. The list, compiled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after Congress demanded the information, and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, is the fullest accounting to date of deaths in immigration detention, a patchwork of federal centers, county jails and privately run prisons that has become the nation’s fastest-growing form of incarceration. The list has few details, and they are often unreliable, but it serves as a rough road map to previously unreported cases like Mr. Bah’s. And it reflects a reality that haunts grieving families like his: the difficulty of getting information about the fate of people taken into immigration custody, even when they die. Mr. Bah’s relatives never saw the internal records labeled “proprietary information — not for distribution” by the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the New Jersey detention center for the federal government. The documents detail how he was treated by guards and government employees: shackled and pinned to the floor of the medical unit as he moaned and vomited, then left in a disciplinary cell for more than 13 hours, despite repeated notations that he was unresponsive and intermittently foaming at the mouth. Mr. Bah had lived in New York for a decade, surrounded by a large circle of friends and relatives. The extravagant gowns he sewed to support his wife and children in West Africa were on display in a Manhattan boutique. But he died in a sequestered system where questions about what had happened to him, or even his whereabouts, were met with silence. As the country debates stricter enforcement of immigration laws, thousands of people who are not American citizens are being locked up for days, months or years while the government decides whether to deport them. Some have no valid visa; some are legal residents, but have past criminal convictions; others are seeking asylum from persecution. Death is a reality in any jail, and the medical neglect of inmates is a perennial issue. But far more than in the criminal justice system, immigration detainees and their families lack basic ways to get answers when things go wrong. No government body is required to keep track of deaths and publicly report them. No independent inquiry is mandated. And often relatives who try to investigate the treatment of those who died say they are stymied by fear of immigration authorities, lack of access to lawyers, or sheer distance. Federal officials say deaths are reviewed internally by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which reports them to its inspector general and decides which ones warrant investigation. Officials say they notify the detainee’s next of kin or consulate, and report the deaths to local medical authorities, who may conduct autopsies. In Mr. Bah’s case, a review before his death found no evidence of foul play, an immigration spokesman said, though after later inquiries from The Times, he said a full review of the death was under way. But critics, including many in Congress, say this piecemeal process leaves too much to the agency’s discretion, allowing some deaths to be swept under the rug while potential witnesses are transferred or deported. They say it also obscures underlying complaints about medical care, abusive conditions or inadequate suicide prevention. In January, the House passed a bill that would require states that receive certain federal money to report deaths in custody to their attorneys general. But the bill is stalled in the Senate, and it does not cover federal facilities. The only tangible result of Congressional concern has been the list of 66 deaths, which names Mr. Bah and many other detainees for the first time, but raises as many questions as it answers. For Mr. Bah’s survivors, the mystery of his death is hard to bear. In Guinea, his first wife, Dalanda, wept as she spoke about the contradictory accounts that had reached her and her two teenage sons through other detainees, including some who speculated that Mr. Bah had been beaten. In New York, a cousin who is an American citizen, Khadidiatou Bah, 38, said she was unable to bring a lawsuit, in part because other relatives were afraid of antagonizing the authorities. “They don’t want to push the case, or maybe they will be sent home,” she said. “This guy was killed, and we don’t know what happened.” Lingering Questions -- The list of deaths where Mr. Bah’s name surfaced is often cryptic. Along with 13 deaths cited as suicides and 14 as the result of cardiac ailments, it offers such causes as “undetermined” and “unwitnessed arrest, epilepsy.” No one’s nationality is given, some places of detention are omitted, and some names and birth dates seem garbled. As a result, many families could not be tracked down for this article. But when they could be, they posed more disturbing questions. In California, relatives of Walter Rodriguez-Castro, 28, said they were rebuffed when they tried to find out why his calls had stopped coming from the Kern County Jail in Bakersfield in April 2006. Then in June, his wife went to his scheduled hearing in San Francisco’s immigration court and learned that he had been dead for many weeks, his body unclaimed in the county morgue. The coroner found that Mr. Rodriguez-Castro, a mover from El Salvador in the country illegally, had died of undiagnosed meningitis and H.I.V., after days complaining of fever, stiff neck and vomiting. The cause of death on the government’s list: “unresponsive.” Immigration authorities said on Friday that the case was now under review, but would not answer questions about it or other deaths on the list. Sgt. Ed Komin, a spokesman for the jail, said the death had been promptly reported to immigration officials, who were responsible for notifying families. Four sons in another family, in Sacramento, described trying for days to get medical care for their father, Maya Nand, a 56-year-old legal immigrant from Fiji, at a detention center run by the Corrections Corporation in Eloy, Ariz. Mr. Nand, an architectural draftsman, had been ailing when he was taken into custody on Jan. 13, 2005, apparently because his application for citizenship had been rejected, based on an earlier conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence. In collect calls, the sons said, he told them that despite his chest pains and breathing problems, doctors at the detention center did not take his condition seriously. The Corrections Corporation said he had been seen and treated “multiple times.” But a letter to the family from an immigration official said his treatment was for a respiratory infection. The letter said that Mr. Nand was taken to an emergency room on Jan. 25, where congestive heart failure was diagnosed, and that he “suffered an apparent heart attack while at the hospital.” He died on Feb. 2, 2005, shackled to a hospital bed in Tucson. Boubacar Bah had more going for him than many detainees. He had a lawyer and many friends and relatives in the United States, and his detention center in New Jersey was one of the few frequented by immigrant advocates. But three days after he suffered a head injury in detention last year, no one in his New York circle knew that he was lying comatose in a Newark hospital, where he had already been identified as a possible organ donor. “Thank you for the referral,” an organ-sharing network wrote on Feb. 3, 2007, according to hospital records. “This patient is a potential candidate for organ donation once brain death criteria is met.” Four days after the fall, tipped off by a detainee who called Mr. Bah’s roommate in Brooklyn, relatives rushed to the detention center to ask Corrections Corporation employees where he was. “They wouldn’t give us any information,” said Lamine Dieng, an American citizen who teaches physics at Bronx Community College and is married to Mr. Bah’s cousin Khadidiatou. On the fifth day, they said, a detention official called them with the name of the hospital. There they found Mr. Bah on life support, still in custody, with a detention guard around the clock. “There was one guard who knew Boubacar,” Ms. Bah said. “He told me on the down-low: ‘This guy, you have to fight for him. This guy was neglected.’ ” Within the week, word of the case reached a reporter at The Times, through an immigration lawyer who had received separate calls from two detainees; they were upset about a badly injured man — named “something like Aboubakar” — left in an isolation cell and later found near death. But advocacy groups said they were unaware of the case. And Michael Gilhooly, the spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that without the man’s full name and eight-digit alien registration number, he could not check the information. For those who knew Mr. Bah, it was hard to understand how such a man could lie dying without explanations. “Everybody liked Boubacar,” said Sadio Diallo, 48, who has a tailor shop in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he and Mr. Bah had shared an apartment with fellow immigrants since arriving in 1998. “He’s a very, very, very good man.” For six years, Mr. Bah had worked for L’Impasse, a clothing store in the West Village, sewing dresses that sold for up to $2,000 with what a former manager, Abdul Sall, called his “magic hands.” Mr. Bah often spent Sundays at the Bronx townhouse his cousins had inherited from the family’s first American citizen, a seaman who arrived in 1943. In Africa, Mr. Bah’s earnings not only supported his first wife, sons and ailing mother, but in Guinean tradition, allowed him to wed a second wife, long distance. It was his longing to see them all again after eight years that landed him in detention. When he returned from a three-month visit to Guinea in May 2006, immigration authorities at Kennedy Airport told him that his green card application had been denied while he was away, automatically revoking his permission to re-enter the United States. An immigration lawyer hired by his friends was unable to reopen the application while Mr. Bah waited for nine months in detention, records showed. Mr. Bah died on May 30, 2007, after four months in a coma. His lawyer, Theodore Vialet, requested detention reports and hospital records under the Freedom of Information Act. But by the time the records arrived last autumn, the idea of a lawsuit had been dropped. So Mr. Vialet just filed the records away — until a reporter’s call about a name on the list of dead detainees prompted him to dig them out. After the Fall -- There are 57 pages of documents, some neatly typed by medics, some scrawled by guards. Some quote detainees who said Mr. Bah was ailing for two days before his fall on Feb. 1, and asked in vain to see a doctor. The records leave unclear exactly when or how Mr. Bah was injured in detention. But they leave no doubt that guards, supervisors, government medical employees and federal immigration officers played a role in leaving him untreated, hour after hour, as he lapsed into a stupor. It began about 8 a.m., according to the earliest report. Guards called a medical emergency after a detainee saw Mr. Bah collapse near a toilet, hitting the back of his head on the floor. When he regained consciousness, Mr. Bah was taken to the medical unit, which is run by the federal Public Health Service. He became incoherent and agitated, reports said, pulling away from the doctor and grabbing at the unit staff. Physicians consulted later by The Times called this a textbook symptom of intracranial bleeding, but apparently no one recognized that at the time. He was handcuffed and placed in leg restraints on the floor with medical approval, “to prevent injury,” a guard reported. “While on the floor the detainee began to yell in a foreign language and turn from side to side,” the guard wrote, and the medical staff deemed that “the screaming and resisting is behavior problems.” Mr. Bah was ordered to calm down. Instead, he kept crying out, then “began to regurgitate on the floor of medical,” the report said. So Mr. Bah was written up for disobeying orders. And with the approval of a physician assistant, Michael Chuley, who wrote that Mr. Bah’s fall was unwitnessed and “questionable,” the tailor was taken in shackles to a solitary confinement cell with instructions that he be monitored. Under detention protocols, an officer videotaped Mr. Bah as he lay vomiting in the medical unit, but the camera’s battery failed, guards wrote, when they tried to tape his trip to cell No. 7. Inside the cell, a supervisor removed Mr. Bah’s restraints. He was unresponsive to questions asked by the Public Health Service officer on duty, a report said, adding: “The detainee set up in his bed and moan and he fell to his left side and hit his head on the bed rail.” About 9 a.m., with the approval of the health officer and a federal immigration agent, the cell was locked. The watching began. As guards checked hourly, Mr. Bah appeared to be asleep on the concrete floor, snoring. But he could not be roused to eat lunch or dinner, and at 7:10 p.m., “he began to breathe heavily and started foaming slightly at the mouth,” a guard wrote. “I notified medical at this time.” However, the nurse on duty rejected the guard’s request to come check, according to reports. And at 8 p.m., when the warden went to the medical unit to describe Mr. Bah’s condition, the nurse, Raymund Dela Pena, was not alarmed. “Detainee is likely exhibiting the same behavior as earlier in the day,” he wrote, adding that Mr. Bah would get a mental health exam in the morning. About 10:30 p.m., more than 14 hours after Mr. Bah’s fall, the same nurse, on rounds, recognized the gravity of his condition: “unresponsive on the floor incontinent with foamy brown vomitus noted around mouth.” Smelling salts were tried. Mr. Bah was carried back to the medical unit on a stretcher. Just before 11, someone at the jail called 911. When an ambulance left Mr. Bah at the hospital, brain scans showed he had a fractured skull and hemorrhages at all sides of his swelling brain. He was rushed to surgery, and the detention center was informed of the findings. But in a report to their supervisors the next day, immigration officials at the center described Mr. Bah’s ailment as “brain aneurysms” — a diagnosis they corrected a week later to “hemorrhages,” without mentioning the skull fracture. After Mr. Bah’s death, they wrote that his hospitalization was “subsequent to a fall in the shower.” The nurse, Mr. Dela Pena, and the physician assistant, Mr. Chuley, said that only their superiors could discuss the case. The Public Health Service did not respond to questions, and the Corrections Corporation said medical decisions were the responsibility of the Public Health Service. Mr. Bah’s cousins demanded an autopsy, but the Union County medical examiner’s confidential report was not completed until Dec. 6. It was sent to the county prosecutor’s office only as a matter of routine, because the matter had been classified as an “unattended accident resulting in death.” Prosecutors said they did not investigate. “According to the report, Bah suffered a fall in the shower,” Eileen Walsh, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors, said in an e-mail message. “We are not privy to any other bits of information.” In the home movies Mr. Bah made of his last journey home, he is only a fleeting presence: a slim man with a shy smile. But without his support, relatives in Africa say they have little money for food and none for his sons’ schooling. His body went back to Guinea in a sealed coffin. “I stayed here seven years, waiting for him,” his second wife, Mariama, said in French, recalling their long separation and the brief reunion that led to the birth of their son, now a toddler, while Mr. Bah was in detention. “I wanted them to open the casket,” she added, “to know if it was him inside. Until today, I cry for him.”

November 13, 2007 India Post
An Immigration Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey reversed a ban against turbans. Three detained Sikh men were barred from wearing turbans for months. The facility changed its policy three weeks after the Sikh Coalition intervened. Three Sikhs have been currently detained for immigration violations at the Elizabeth Detention Center (EDC) by Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security. EDC is run by a private government contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The men were put in detention at various times within the past 15 months. CCA disallowed them from wearing their turbans during this time. On October 7, a family friend of one of the Sikh detainees contacted the Sikh Coalition requesting assistance. The Coalition then contacted the family of the detained man, and subsequently was able to communicate with all three Sikh detainees. All three asked the Coalition for help to persuade the detention centre to allow them to wear their turbans.The Sikh Coalition spoke to the Chief of Security at EDC on October 12. The Coalition explained that their refusal to allow Sikh detainees to wear turbans violated: firstly, ICE's Detention Standards regarding Religious Practices, and secondly the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The Coalition also raised the issue in a memorandum to ICE officials on October 17 in preparation for an interagency meeting in Washington, DC hosted by the Department of Justice. The next day, the Legal Aid Society of New York and the Coalition also sent a joint letter to the detention center's Warden, explaining that CCA was violating the law. On October 22 the Warden contacted the Legal Aid Society and indicated that the center would allow the men to wear their religious headwear subject to safety and security considerations.

November 13, 2007 AP
A federal jury on Tuesday awarded a political asylum $100,001 after finding that her rights were violated while in custody at a detention center operated for U.S. immigration authorities by a private contractor, the immigrant's lawyer said. The jury said the operator, then known as Esmor Corp., and some former executives, should pay $100,000 to Somali immigrant Hawa Jama for negligent hiring and training, and $1 for violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "Clearly, she would have been happier if she got more money, but she feels vindicated," said the lawyer, Penny M. Venetis. The jury found no violation of international human rights standards. The verdict came on the second day of deliberations, but a decade after Jama and eight other immigrants sued the company that ran the detention center in Elizabeth and what was then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Venetis said the eight others had already settled for undisclosed sums, and the only remaining defendants were the corporate successor to Esmor and former Esmor employees. Esmor is now part of the Geo Group Inc. Messages seeking comment from its lawyer and a company spokesman were not immediately returned. At trial, Jama testified that she endured beatings, insults, rotting food and unsanitary conditions during her 11-month detention at the privately run jail in Elizabeth in 1994-95. The INS closed the center following a riot in June 1995, when about 100 immigrants broke windows, destroyed furniture and overpowered guards, claiming they were being held under inhumane conditions. The INS fired Esmor, then of Melville, N.Y., after finding that poorly trained guards abused the detainees physically and mentally, gave them spoiled food and deprived them of sleep. The detention center reopened in January 1997 after renovations were completed by its new operator, Corrections Corp. of America, of Nashville, Tenn. Jama, now in her late 30s, got married several years ago and now lives with her husband and three children in Columbus, Ohio, Venetis said. Jama had fled tribal warfare in Somalia that claimed her father and brother, and became a U.S. citizen last year, said Venetis, a law professor at Rutgers School of Law-Newark and co-director of its constitutional litigation clinic. "She really is still very haunted by what happened at Esmor," Venetis said. "She has flashbacks." Venetis claimed "corporate greed" created miserable conditions at the Esmor detention center. Guards routinely beat and cursed detainees, with Jama being called "an African monkey," Venetis said. "She was denied sanitary napkins, so she just bled all over herself once a month," Venetis said. Charges were dismissed three years ago against the INS and its officials, with U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise saying the government cannot be sued. He also dismissed some charges against the company's guards, finding that individual actions did not rise to the level of international human rights abuses. But he refused to dismiss all charges against Esmor and its officials. Some 1,600 former Esmor detainees got a $2.5 million settlement from Esmor in 2005, with most getting less than $1,000 each after legal fees. That group did not include Jama and the other eight who sued. Geo, a publicly traded company based in Boca Raton, Fla., reported 2006 profit of $30 million, or $1.68 per share, compared with $7 million, or 47 cents per share a year earlier. It had revenue of $860.9 million in 2006, compared with $612.9 million in 2005.

March 4, 2007 Courier News
The way Living Waters Lutheran Church describes it, Elizabeth Detention Facility is a living hell. The church says illegal immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are locked in a warehouse without sunlight. Detainees are denied personal possessions, deprived of privacy and forced into a dormitory-style room 22 hours a day. Outdoor recreation, the church says, is a room with only a panel in the ceiling open to the sky. Reports of such alleged conditions and legal mismanagement have spurred the Hunterdon County congregation to plan a March 18 prayer vigil outside the center in Elizabeth, Union County. Short of closing such facilities for good, the church says it hopes prayer will signal awareness and comfort to those trapped in a "cruel maze of injustice." "We're interested because, as people of faith, we have to be," said the Rev. Matthew Cimorelli, the church's pastor. "There is an overarching message in the Scriptures throughout the Old Testament and also in the New Testament that says things like care for the widow and the orphan and the stranger and the alien in your midst. ... We care about the detainees in the Elizabeth Detention Center because it's a mandate from God to do so. They're the least. They're the alien. They're the stranger in our midst." And Living Waters isn't alone. The Rev. Bruce H. Davidson, director of the New Jersey Synod's Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry, said Living Waters is one of many congregations heeding the synod's call to learn what goes on inside the facility and to take turns gathering there. Davidson estimates the synod -- which encompasses 192 congregations throughout the state -- has attempted to draw attention to the center for the past 10 years. For the past two, Davidson said, the synod has adopted official resolutions calling for better treatment of detainees. "We're not questioning that there needs to be controls in place," Davidson said. "We feel the controls in place, if they are followed, will not only provide protection of our borders but would also make sure people who find themselves in this situation are not abused." Civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey also have decried the treatment of detainees. In an article last year, the ACLU estimated that roughly 1,100 immigrants were being held in a half-dozen county jails throughout the state as well as the Elizabeth Detention Facility. "Who are these individuals? Mostly, they are people who have overstayed their visas or are otherwise not in legal status," the ACLU wrote of New Jersey's detainees. "But many are asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their native countries, only to find themselves arrested at U.S. airports. Most have families, jobs and community ties in New Jersey. They are your neighbors, friends, colleagues or even family members." Assistant Warden Charlotte Collins, who said "we welcome all peaceful vigils," declined to comment on the treatment of Elizabeth's detainees and the conditions inside the facility. The center is operated under the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Corrections Corporation of America. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site describes the facility as "a temporary detention center for individuals who are waiting for their immigration status to be determined or who are awaiting repatriation." But some churches and immigrant rights organizations counter that the Department of Homeland Security, the agency ultimately responsible for detention standards, regularly violates its own rules. In January, 84 immigration detainees, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and six other immigrant rights organizations announced a joint petition to the Department of Homeland Security asking the agency to adopt universal, binding regulations for detainees. "The need for enforceable, uniform standards that establish clear lines of accountability is especially critical in light of the patchwork system of detention currently employed to house detainees," including local jails, the groups wrote. For Davidson, an immediate hope is that detainees have their cases decided quickly and in accordance with international law while detention centers preserve detainees' safety and human dignity. Although Davidson acknowledged the synod's efforts have yet to prompt legislative response, he said past vigils -- especially those attended by young people -- have successfully raised awareness. "I think it changed people's minds about immigration and also about the way we sometimes treat people," Davidson said. "So, I think just the experience of bringing people to this place and letting them know what happens, that is powerful enough to get people to change their mind about this issue and to become active and make things different." Said Cimorelli, Living Water's pastor: "We can't just sit in our churches and sing songs and say that's serving God. You serve God by loving your neighbor. And God is pretty clear about who the neighbor is."

September 7, 2005 AP
Immigrants who claimed they were abused at a detention center won a $2.5 million settlement from a private company that operated the center for the federal government. After legal fees, some 1,600 detainees will divide about $1.5 million based on how long they were held and what they said was done to them, the New Jersey Law Journal reported this week. U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, in Newark, approved the settlement Aug. 10. The detainees were being held at the Elizabeth center between August 1994 and June 1995 for what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many have since been deported. The center was operated by Esmor Correctional Services, then based in Melville, N.Y., until shortly after a June 1995 riot, when about 100 immigrants broke windows, destroyed furniture and overpowered guards, claiming they had suffered physical abuse and other inhumane conditions. The INS closed the center and fired Esmor after its investigation found that poorly trained guards abused the detainees physically and mentally, gave them spoiled food and deprived them of sleep. The detention center reopened in January 1997 after renovations were completed by its new operator, Corrections Corp. of America, of Nashville, Tenn. Still pending is a related lawsuit against Esmor, now known as Correctional Services Corp., of Sarasota, Fla., by nine detainees who claim that political asylum seekers were abused and harassed at the center.

November 17, 2004 AP
Evidence shows political asylum seekers were abused and harassed while detained at a privately operated facility that lacked clean food, clothes and bedding, a federal judge found as he refused to dismiss a lawsuit by nine immigrants. "You don't need to beat someone to a pulp until they're ready to die to violate human rights law," said the lawyer, Penny M. Venetis, associate director of the Constitutional Law Clinic at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. The ruling, filed Nov. 10 by U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise in Newark, is the latest milestone in a lawsuit filed in 1997 against what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the company that ran its detention center in Elizabeth. The judge dismissed charges against the INS and its officials, saying the government cannot be sued. He also dismissed some charges against the company's guards, finding that individual actions did not rise to the level of international human rights abuses, Venetis said. But he refused to dismiss all charges against Correctional Services Corp. and its officials. The Sarasota, Fla.-based company was known as Esmor Corp. when it operated the INS detention center. The judge said the evidence showed that detention center administrator Willard Stovall was "fully aware" of abuses, and listed 21 examples, including the beatings of detainees and the sexual assault of one female detainee. Other examples cited by the judge were sexual harassment that included guards watching women detainees take showers, broken toilets, defective heating, and lack of access to supplies such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. In addition, guards interfered with detainees' efforts to practice their religions, whether they were Christian, Hindu or Muslim, the judge said. The Elizabeth center was operated by Esmor, then based in Melville, N.Y., until shortly after a June 1995 riot, when about 100 immigrants broke windows, destroyed furniture and overpowered guards, claiming they suffered physical abuse and other inhumane conditions. The INS closed the center and fired Esmor after its investigation found that poorly trained guards abused the detainees physically and mentally, gave them spoiled food and deprived them of sleep. The detention center reopened in January 1997 after renovations were completed by its new operator, Corrections Corp. of America, of Nashville, Tenn.

September 21, 2001
A Nigerian man whose accounts of abuse spawned a staff shake-up and reforms at the Elizabeth Detention Center has been freed after spending nearly four years behind bars.  An immigration judge granted Oluwole Aboyade, 23, relief from deportation under a United Nations convention against torture.   In 1999, Aboyade and Salah Dafali, another detainee, accused guards at the privately run detention center of beating them after they complained about conditions. The center was operated by Corrections Corp. of America of Nashville, Tenn.  A subsequent INS investigation found many of the accusations were credible.  Several guards and supervisors were reassigned, and INS officials demanded that the chief of security be transferred out of the facility. The warden also resigned, citing personal reasons.  (Naples Daily News)

Dozens of detainees have started a hunger strike to protest conditions and what they call an unfair parole process and demanded reinstitution of cancelled English classes and an end to abusive behavior by guards. (New York Times, Oct.15, 2000)

Nearly 100 detainees stage a hunger strike to protest what they considered tough parole criteria. Immigration officials promised to review parole requests and to study ways to increase the quantity of food and lower prices of telephone cards used by detainees. (New York Times, Oct.15, 2000)

A pending lawsuit alleges that "a policy or practice that authorized CCA staff to use abusive practices to control and discipline."

Essex County Jail
Essex County, New Jersey
Community Education Centers, Gourmet Dining (formerly run by Aramark)

August 16, 2011 The Star-Ledger
The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is re-examining its deal with Essex County to house 1,250 immigrant detainees after the county announced it would throw out a controversial bid to hold them in a private facility run by a politically-connected firm. Days after signing a five-year contract with ICE, county officials said today they will seek another round of bids from vendors after only receiving one application for the project from Education and Health Centers of America, a nonprofit with ties to both Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and Gov. Chris Christie. Essex County officials said they now hope to secure a vendor by January. In the wake of the county’s announcement this afternoon, the immigration agency said it had not been informed of the change and released a terse statement. "ICE may need to renegotiate or modify the terms of our current (agreement) with the county," said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. But county officials tried to downplay the change. "The public bid we issued for a vendor to house immigration detainees in a private facility was canceled, because Essex can save $600,000 by using an existing contract," DiVincenzo said in a written statement. In response to ICE’s plan to re-evaluate the deal, DiVincenzo said there must be some confusion, and he would contact the agency in the morning. "We already have a contract (with ICE). … I don’t know where they’re coming from," he said last night. For about five years, the county has had a contract with Delaney Hall, a private correctional facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark run by the for-profit Community Education Centers. Now the county will house immigrant detainees there under the existing contract, which ends Dec. 31. CEC contracts with the nonprofit Education and Health Centers of America, which in July put in a bid to house 450 ICE detainees at the facility. County officials said the move would also save about $17 a day for each detainee under the old contract. After the contract expires, detainees there could be relocated if another bidder is selected. The rest of the detainees will be housed at the county jail. "This does seem really odd. Really odd," said Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program with the Newark chapter of the American Friends Service Committee. "It does make me think that the exposure of the unorthodox bidding process, the non-transparency of the bidding process, has maybe raised some questions." Gottlieb and others, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg, criticized the bid process calling for more transparency. The county came under fire after the Education and Health Centers of America was the only bidder for the contract. John Clancy, a former county youth services official, heads both the Education and Health Centers of America and the Community Education Centers and has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of county and state officials. In addition to Clancy, a close friend and former law-firm colleague of the governor, William Palatucci, serves as a senior vice president for Community Education Centers. Today, Palatucci referred most questions to the county. "We currently have a contractual relationship with Essex County through the end of the year. We’ll have to wait and see to see what happens," he said. Palatucci emphasized the company’s long relationship with county government. "We have a good, strong track record for 11 years. We’d expect that to continue in one shape or form going forward," he said. Ralph Caputo, vice president of the county freeholder board and chairman of the public safety committee, said the freeholders will review the contract with ICE at their Wednesday meeting. He said the bid from Education and Health Centers of America may not have been the best fit because of the timing. The ICE contract is for five years, while the bid from Education and Health Centers of America was for two years with an option to extend it. Caputo said although the bid process has been controversial, he thinks the county is trying to do it right. "I don’t think any of it was wrong," he said. "I think they just went a little too fast." DiVincenzo also said that Philip Alagia will serve in a new position as county director of ICE programs, adding $30,000 to his $108,645 salary as DiVincenzo’s chief of staff.

August 12, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Essex County and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have signed a new, five-year agreement that could nearly triple the number of federal immigration detainees being held in Newark and generate as much as $50 million a year for the county, ICE officials said today. Under the contract, up to 1,250 detainees would be held at the Essex County Jail and the privately-run Delaney Hall. About 465 detainees are now held at the jail on an average day. Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the deal was signed Thursday. Anthony Puglisi, a spokesman for Essex County, said yesterday the county would have no comment until it officially announces the deal. The county freeholders still need to sign off on the agreement. Christensen said the contract calls for Essex County to receive $108 per detainee per day over the life of the contract. A similar arrangement, drawn up in 2008 at the rate of $105 per detainee per day, generated about $22 million for the county last year and is expected to bring in nearly $28 million this year, officials have said. The financial arrangement has come under fire from opponents to federal immigration policy, who say that the county is profiting from misguided mandates. "Essex County has shown that profits come before human rights," said Karina Wilkinson, a co-founder of the Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights and a frequent critic of Essex County’s detention policies. "We are disappointed that the Obama administration is continuing to expand detention and deportation to record levels, tearing communities apart." The new contract gives ICE access to 800 beds at the county jail and up to 450 beds at the adjacent Delaney Hall, Christensen said. In recent weeks, detractors have argued the specifications in the county’s bid request seeking housing for an additional 450 detainees was tailor-made for a politically connected company. Education and Health Centers of America, based in Wall Township, submitted the only bid. The non-profit firm has contracted with the county to provide rehabilitation and other services for more than a decade. In January, the county freeholders renewed a $20 million jail-services contract with EHCA. The bulk of those services are run out of Delaney Hall, a residential facility for criminal offenders that prepares them for re-entry into society. Although EHCA is a nonprofit, it subcontracted its service contracts to Community Education Centers, a for-profit company with which it is affiliated, according to state officials. Both companies are headed by John Clancy, a former county youth services official who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign of county and state officials, according to state elections records. Freeholder Ralph Caputo said the board would meet with county administrators as soon as Monday to discuss both the contract and EHCA’s bid. "The basic objective is we want to be able to benefit the county with a tremendous amount of revenue, but we want to do it appropriately," Caputo said today. "There are a lot of specifics that have to addressed."

July 30, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Essex County officials are coming under heavy criticism over how they handled the bidding process for a facility to house federal immigration detainees, a contract potentially worth tens of millions of dollars. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and immigration advocates are questioning whether the request’s specifications were tailor-made for Education and Health Centers of America, a politically connected firm that submitted the sole bid by Thursday’s deadline. Specifications for the contract, which call for housing at least 450 detainees, include that the facility be located within a two-hour drive of Newark, New York and Philadelphia and within a 10-mile radius of the Essex County Jail on Doremus Avenue in Newark; that the successful bidder have a facility already being used for correctional purposes; and that it be within 20 miles of a major airport. EHCA has contracted with the county to provide rehabilitation and other services for more than a decade. "This smacks of some kind of a backdoor deal," said Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program with the Newark chapter of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker faith-based organization. "It really seems to show the process was not open." Gottlieb said the bid process raised "serious questions," particularly since the contract involves incarceration. "The stakes are high. This isn’t a game," she said. "You’re talking about depriving people’s liberty." In a letter to John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Lautenberg, the vice chairman of a Senate subcommittee that oversees federal funding to ICE, questioned whether the county’s bidding process was "entirely fair, open and transparent." Before any agreement is finalized, Lautenberg wrote, "I am requesting that ICE carefully examine the terms and conditions of such an agreement, as well as the manner in which Essex County intends to satisfy its obligations under the agreement in order to ensure that it fully complies with all applicable law." County officials did not make the bid available, saying it can only be inspected after a formal public-information request is submitted and processed. An attorney for the company, William Harla, said the company’s bid would be judged solely on its merits. "EHCA did not ask for any special position in the process," Harla said in an e-mail. EHCA has reaped about $500 million in county and state Department of Corrections contracts since 1997, according to a state comptroller’s report last month. In January, the county freeholders renewed a $20 million jail-services contract with the company. The bulk of those services are run out of Delaney Hall, a residential center on Doremus Avenue for criminal offenders that prepares them for re-entry into society. Although EHCA is a nonprofit, it sub-contracted its service contracts to a for-profit affiliate, Community Education Centers, according to state officials. Both companies are headed by John Clancy, a former county youth services official who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign of county and state officials, according to state elections records. Besides Clancy, who also served as president of the New Jersey Association for Youth Services and the chairman of the county’s Family Court Commission, William Palatucci, a close friend and former law firm colleague of Gov. Chris Christie, works for Community Education Centers. Clancy and Community Education Centers have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to county and state candidates over the years, including the most recent re-election campaign for Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. Those contributions have come under scrutiny from critics of the county’s ICE contracts. Clancy, though, has said that "a battery of attorneys" have determined his contributions are clearly within legal bounds. In a statement, DiVincenzo said Lautenberg’s suspicions were misplaced. "While most senators would fight for additional revenue to lower taxes and create jobs for their constituents, Senator Frank Lautenberg has channeled his energy into preventing Essex County’s taxpayers from receiving $50 million in revenue," DiVincenzo said. The statement said the county fosters open and competitive pricing "so that we can obtain the most professionally delivered and cost efficient services for our residents."

July 18, 2010 The Star-Ledger
Aramark is the giant of America’s food-service industry, topping Fortune’s list of the "World’s Most Admired Companies." So when Aramark, whose menu runs the gamut from lobster rolls at Boston’s Fenway Park to meals for most of New Jersey’s county inmates, came up short on a $12 million contract, it flexed its legal muscle. In a tug-of-war featuring a debate over pennies per meal and highlighting a criminal case against a competitor’s food-service executive, the Philadelphia giant fought a court ruling giving New Jersey competitor Gourmet Dining the very Essex County jail contract Aramark snatched from Gourmet in 2004. Then it relented. The 4-inch thick stack of legal briefs and exhibits is now closed. But the legal battle — brief as it was — offers insights into the clash of a food-service titan and its smaller competitor in the sometimes murky world of competitive bidding. On one hand, Aramark Correctional Services bid $1.32 a meal for each inmate, technically making it the lowest bidder. On the other, Gourmet Dining bid $1.42, technically losing. But Essex County rejected Aramark, saying its per-meal pricing wasn’t really "firm," as required by the bid specifications, and threw open the bidding anew — an action Gourmet says was a "thinly veiled attempt" to give Aramark time to fix its defective bid. On April 1, Madison-based Gourmet sued, making references to Aramark’s "monopoly" and asserting that its bid would actually save Essex $1.16 million over 3 years. Aramark countered, saying Gourmet was not a "responsible bidder" since the man it would put in charge of meals at the Essex County Correctional Facility had been fired by Aramark for embezzling funds. "It’s a good old-fashioned game of chicken," Professor Larry Bennett of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University said of the legal punches and counter-punches. It’s the second time the food-service competitors have squared off in a New Jersey courtroom. Just 16 months ago, Gourmet Dining won a ruling in Monmouth County, snatching a contract initially awarded to Aramark for that county’s inmates. "We’re pretty happy with it," Savino Russoniello Jr., the West Orange attorney representing Gourmet Dining, said of the latest outcome. "The county is going to be saving money with the new contract. The taxpayers are the winners here." That’s not the way Aramark sees it. "Our proposal would have provided the county with $800,000 in savings over the term of the contract compared with the selected bid," said Sarah Jarvis, an Aramark spokeswoman. But Aramark, which held Essex County’s contract from 2004 til now, wasn’t burning any bridges. "We delivered outstanding service to Essex County over the past seven years and hope we have the opportunity to do so again," she said. To James Paganelli, Essex County’s chief county counsel, the truth lies somewhere in the great divide. "They’re both going to give you a competing analysis," he said. Gourmet Dining’s legal complaint was just that, and a painstaking one. Gourmet, whose $40 million a year in revenues includes serving means to undergrads at Seton Hall University and executives at Hertz, asserted that Aramark was able to push up the price it charges for an inmate meal in Essex by 49 percent from March 2004 to May 2009. That was, in part, the basis for its argument that Aramark’s latest bid was not based on a "firm price" as required by the bid specifications, according to the lawsuit. On Feb. 18, Gourmet Dining protested in a letter to Essex County. Less than a month later, Essex rejected Aramark’s bid on the basis that it did not submit a "firm quote" and sent a memorandum of agreement to Gourmet Dining. But on March 26, the county instead rejected all bids and opted to rebid, altering the terms, noting "confusing and misleading" bid wording that created "uncertainty," and adding a provision disqualifying any bidder on the basis of a key executive’s criminal record. On June 23, in a 5-page opinion, Superior Court Judge Claude Coleman, sitting in Newark, rejected Essex’s decision to reopen the bids and ordered the county to award the contract to Gourmet. "Rejecting all bids was improper, without sound reasons, and was an abuse of discretion," Coleman ruled. "Aramark’s bid was not in compliance with the bid specifications." As for the former Aramark employee about to handle Gourmet Dining’s Essex contract, he pled guilty of theft by deception, was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend Gamblers Anonymous, according to court papers. Paganelli, the county counsel, said he listened to the judge’s advice on that issue. "Judge Coleman said, ‘You have the right to pick whoever that leader is going to be. Just tell them that person is not acceptable to you, and they’ll get you another person." Did Essex follow through? Paganelli was succinct. "Yep," he said.

Giants Stadium
New Jersey
Aramark

December 3, 2008 Star-Ledger
The family of a young girl paralyzed in a drunk-driving accident nine years ago received a $25 million settlement from Aramark Corp., the Giants Stadium beer vendor whose employees continued to serve the intoxicated fan who caused the crash. The settlement with the family of Antonia Verni, who is now 11, took place last year but was not disclosed until today, when a state appeals court ruled that sealed documents in the case must be made public. Antonia, a quadriplegic who requires a ventilator to breathe, received $23.5 million in the settlement, said the family's lawyer, David A. Mazie of Roseland. Her mother, Fazila Verni, received $1.5 million for injuries she suffered in the crash.

October 25, 2007 The Record
On a fall Sunday eight years ago, Antonia Verni of Cliffside Park was sent to a harsh prison, probably for the rest of her life. Her incarceration does not include steel bars, stone walls and stern guards, though. Antonia's prison is far more merciless. On that Sunday, a man who later said he was "beyond drunk," drove his pickup truck head-on into the Verni family's Toyota Corolla. Antonia was paralyzed from the neck down. She was only 2 years old and was returning with her mother and father from a trip to pick pumpkins. Antonia now spends her days in a wheelchair, hooked to a breathing machine and monitored by a nurse. Over the course of her life, her parents, who quit their jobs to care for her, may have to come up with as much as $32 million to pay all of Antonia's medical bills. The fiery crash on Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, which also left Antonia's mother partially blind, galvanized national attention to the dangers of drunken drivers. But it raised other questions, too: What about those who serve booze to drunks? Are servers guilty? If not, why not? The drunken driver, Daniel Lanzaro, a Cresskill carpenter and father of two young sons, spent that tragic day swilling the equivalent of three six-packs of beer, mostly inside Giants Stadium. When he rammed his truck into the Verni car, his blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. Didn't anyone who sold beer at Giants Stadium or at area bars later visited by Lanzaro notice that he was blind drunk? As you might expect, this tragedy landed in court. Lanzaro pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of vehicular assault and was sentenced to five years in prison. The Verni family filed a lawsuit, and won a historic $135 million judgment, with $105 million of it to come from the stadium beer vendor, Aramark Corp. Aramark appealed – no surprise there. Nor was it surprising that lawyers for Antonia's family and Aramark privately worked out a settlement, approved last week by a Bergen County judge. What's surprising – and sad -- is that the judge sealed the records. This pivotal chapter of Antonia's story needs to be told, not locked in a judicial file drawer. We've heard many times how drunken driving wrecks innocent lives. Indeed, such stories are important. But we also need to explore other, wide-ranging implications of drunken driving, especially for those who sell booze in taverns or at public sporting events. Our government issues liquor licenses to these vendors. Why shouldn't taxpayers know more about them? Sealing records in such an important court case does not add to constructive discourse. It puts a damper on it. In reaching an agreement with Antonia's family, Aramark issued a statement claiming it "settled the litigation without any admission of wrongdoing." It merely paid Antonia's family – as if that means nothing. Antonia's parents seem satisfied that the settlement will cover their daughter's medical bills. That's good news. But why not disclose the amount? Knowing the size of the judgment might be a warning to vendors to be careful. And why allow Aramark to avoid admitting any responsibility? Or was that question dropped from discussions? More important, was Giants Stadium required to take additional steps to make sure tipsy fans are not served at future events? Open those records. It's the only way to be sure.

September 7, 2006 Star-Ledger
Lawyers for a Bergen County girl paralyzed in a drunken-driving accident have asked the state Supreme Court to review her case against the beer vendor at Giants Stadium, claiming the issues could affect drunken-driving policies in New Jersey. The attorneys argue that a state appeals court erred in August when it overturned a landmark $135 million jury verdict against the stadium vendor, Aramark Corp., and a fan whose drunken-driving accident left 2-year-old Antonia Verni of Cliffside Park paralyzed. The appeals court ordered a new trial, ruling that testimony about the "culture of intoxication" at the stadium should not have been presented to the jury. Antonia's attorneys disagree. "If this decision is allowed to stand, it will emasculate the ability of victims of drunk driving to go after liquor establishments that serve visibly intoxicated patrons, by eliminating certain evidence that can go before a jury, and that's not what the law ... intended," said Antonia's attorney, David Mazie, who filed a 25-page petition to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

August 3, 2006 AP
A New Jersey appeals court on Thursday overturned a landmark $105 million verdict against a Giants Stadium concessionaire that sold beer to a drunken football fan who later caused an auto accident, leaving a girl paralyzed. The three-judge appeals panel ruled that the trial court erred by improperly allowing testimony about the “drinking environment at the stadium” and ordered a new trial should be held. “The admission of this evidence cannot be considered harmless. A central theme of plaintiffs’ case was the culture of intoxication at the stadium,” the court wrote in its 65-page ruling. Last year, a state judge in Hackensack rejected an effort by Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. to throw out or reduce the verdict. Its vendors sold beer to Daniel Lanzaro, of Cresskill, during a 1999 New York Giants game just hours before he caused a car crash that left then-2-year-old Antonia Verni paralyzed from the neck down. In January 2005, a Bergen County jury said Lanzaro and Aramark should pay a total of $135 million in damages. At the time, legal experts said it was the largest alcohol liability award in the United States in at least the last 25 years. Aramark’s portion of that award included $30 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages.

May 31, 2006 NewJersey.com
Lawyers for a food-service giant that was ordered to pay $105 million to the family of a Cliffside Park girl paralyzed in a drunken-driving crash argued Tuesday that the victim's father shares responsibility for her condition. Antonia Verni was 2 years old when a truck driven by a drunken Cresskill man slammed head-on into her family's sedan on Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights on Oct. 29, 1999. A Bergen County jury in January 2005 ruled that employees of Aramark Corp. irresponsibly sold beer to the drunken driver, Daniel Lanzaro, contributing to the crash. The jurors awarded more than $135 million in compensatory and punitive damages – an amount many lawyers believe is the largest ever in such a lawsuit. Aramark is liable for $105 million and Lanzaro the rest. Arguing before a state appellate panel in Trenton on Tuesday, Aramark attorneys lambasted Superior Court Judge Richard Donohue for dismissing evidence that they said should have been admitted during the civil case in Hackensack. For one thing, they contended, Ronald Verni had strapped Antonia in an adult seat belt instead of a child restraint. The impact jolted her head forward, breaking her neck and causing the paralysis, they said. Antonia's mother, Fazila Baksh Verni, was the only other person seriously injured in the crash. The woman, who the lawyers said wasn't wearing a seat belt, was hospitalized for two months and left partially blinded. "Everyone walked away from the accident, except Antonia and her mother," said Aramark lawyer Michael Rodburg. However, he said, the jurors in Hackensack were never allowed to review that evidence during the trial. "This was a smear case against Aramark," he said. "And the judge allowed it."

January 26, 2006 Star-Ledger
A lawyer for an 8-year-old paralyzed car crash victim has filed a motion to expedite the appeal of a $135 million jury verdict, most of it against the beer service company at Giants Stadium. Attorney David Mazie of Roseland said the state appellate court should speed up the case because his client, Antonia Verni, is ventilator-dependent and has been unable to get the 24-hour nursing care that experts on both sides of the case recommend. Neither Antonia nor her mother, Fazila, has been able to collect the money while the case is pending, Mazie said. "It's very unusual to file an appeal to expedite," Mazie said. "It's only done in the gravest of cases. We think her situation is one such case. This is to prevent something catastrophic from happening." Last January, Antonia and her mother were awarded $135 million in compensatory and punitive damages, most of it against Aramark Corp., the concessionaire at Giants Stadium. A jury determined there was a "culture of intoxication" at the stadium and found Aramark guilty of serving a visibly drunk fan who later caused the car crash that left the Cliffside Park girl injured. Aramark appealed, but a state appellate court could take until September to hear arguments. Antonia's court-appointed legal guardian for the case, Albert Burstein, said the second-grader can't wait that long to collect her award. He said the family only has limited access to about $500,000 collected in settlements from third parties. "There's not enough money to match the daily costs of taking care of Antonia," Burstein said. "If we were to do the job we would like to do on her behalf, which means round-the-clock care by professionals, it adds up very rapidly." Antonia has a nurse during school hours, paid for by the school district. Her mother, who has no formal medical training, cares for Antonia at home.

September 25, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
Fans who drive after drinking excessively at 49ers or Raiders games, or any other sporting event, would be well advised to consider the plight of an 8-year-old New Jersey girl. And a vendor who sells an intoxicated fan another beer should think not only about the little girl but about the multimillion-dollar judgment a jury ruled she and her family were entitled to receive earlier this year from the New York Giants' concessionaire. "Concessionaires throughout the country are well aware of that case," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. In January, a jury awarded $135 million to the family of Antonia Verni, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a car wreck caused by a drunken football fan. The fan is serving a five-year prison sentence, and the concessionaire whose employees sold him beers when he was already clearly intoxicated will pay the family $110 million unless the verdict, currently on appeal, is reduced or reversed. The NFL, the 49ers and the Raiders say the Verni case was a wakeup call for the league and the people who serve fans millions of dollars worth of beer and other alcoholic beverages each season. Like other pro sports leagues, the NFL is heavily intertwined with beer companies. Their signage is as much a part of stadiums as the goalposts, and their commercials form the backbone of the league's TV sponsorship. Attorney David Mazie said from his office in Roseland, N.J., "Quite frankly, I haven't heard anything that demonstrates the NFL and teams have changed their policies on serving alcohol -- other than paying lip service. I haven't seen anything at all." Mazie called the verdict against Aramark "a milestone" in holding a concessionaire accountable. "There may have been settlements before, but I'm not aware of any verdicts. Clearly, it's a landmark, not only because of its size but because of the punitive damages."Lanzaro "was trashed" when the accident occurred, Mazie said. "I'm sure there were 5,000 others in the same condition (driving away from the game)." "As long as you're not falling down, they'll serve you," Mazie said of Aramark employees. "The person who trained them said that. But by the time you're slurring your speech or stumbling, your blood-alcohol is between .10 and .15. Anything above .08 is drunk driving, so what they're saying is they'll still serve people when they're at twice the legal limit." "There are a series of signs -- slurring of speech, talking a lot, not being able to hold themselves up straight," spokesman David Freireich said from the firm's headquarters in Philadelphia. Aramark is a founding member of the Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition, a nonprofit group that advises pro sports leagues and sponsors designated-driver programs at McAfee Coliseum and other parks, Freireich pointed out.

March 4, 2005 USA Today
A state judge on Friday upheld a $105 million verdict against a Giants Stadium concessionaire for selling beer to a drunken football fan who later caused an auto accident, leaving a girl paralyzed. State Superior Court Judge Richard J. Donohue in Hackensack rejected an effort by Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. to throw out or reduce the verdict. Its vendors sold beer to Daniel Lanzaro of Cresskill during a 1999 New York Giants game hours before he caused a car crash that left then 2-year-old Antonia Verni paralyzed from the neck down. "It sends a message to Aramark and other beer concessions around the state that they have to change their ways," said David Mazie, a Roseland lawyer representing Verni's family. Aramark's portion of that award included $30 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. Interest accruing daily has brought the company's total to nearly $110 million, according to Mazie. The family claimed Aramark vendors sold beers to Lanzaro at the stadium in East Rutherford even though he was clearly drunk. The company, they said, fostered an atmosphere in which intoxicated patrons were able to buy more.

January 21, 2005 Reuters
The family of a girl paralyzed in a car crash caused by a drunken football fan won $105 million in damages from the concessionaire that sold him beer, and the girl's father said on Thursday the case should have far-reaching effects.
The Superior Court jury in Hackensack, New Jersey, assessed punitive damages on Wednesday against Giants Stadium concessionaire Aramark Corp., for its role in the October 1999 accident that left Antonia Verni, then 2 years old, paralyzed from the neck down.

January 18, 2005 AP
A jury awarded $60 million Tuesday to the family of a girl paralyzed in a car wreck caused by a drunken football fan. Ronald and Fazila Verni were headed home from a pumpkin-picking trip in 1999 with their 2-year-old daughter, Antonia, when their car was hit by a truck driven by Daniel Lanzaro, 34. Antonia was paralyzed from the neck down. The family sued Aramark, the Giants Stadium concessionaire, claiming vendors sold beers to Lanzaro even though he was clearly drunk and that Aramark fostered an atmosphere in which intoxicated patrons were served. The stadium also mandates that fans can only buy two beers at a time -- a rule Lanzaro sidestepped by tipping the vendor $10, allowing him to buy six beers.

January 14, 2005 WNBC News
Jury deliberations have begun in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of a 7-year-old girl who was paralyzed when a drunken football fan on his way home from a New York Giants game crashed into the family's car.
The family claims Aramark, the Giants Stadium concessionaire that sold beers to the fan, was partly responsible for the crash in Hasbrouck Heights. The family claims Aramark vendors sold beers to Daniel Lanzaro at the stadium even though the Cresskill man was clearly drunk and that Aramark "fostered" an atmosphere where intoxicated patrons were served, which is against the law.

January 12, 2005 NewJersey.com
An admitted alcoholic who slammed his truck into a Cliffside Park family's car, paralyzing their 2-year-old daughter, wasn't visibly drunk when he bought beer at Giants Stadium earlier that day, an alcohol expert told jurors Tuesday.
Robert J. Pandina, a psychology professor and director of the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University, said Daniel Lanzaro of Cresskill couldn't have had more than five or six beers inside the stadium. The parents of the injured girl are suing Aramark, the food-service company that holds the liquor license at the stadium, saying it sold alcohol irresponsibly to Lanzaro. Lanzaro, a 35-year-old carpenter and father of two, left a Giants game on Oct. 24, 1999, and crashed his truck head-on into the car of Ronald and Fazila Baksh Verni in Hasbrouck Heights. The crash seriously injured Baksh Verni and left the Vernis' daughter, Antonia, a paraplegic. The family is suing Aramark under a state law that holds vendors liable for damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol while visibly intoxicated.

December 9, 2004 Star-Ledger
Sitting in her wheelchair with a stuffed doll propping her head, unable to move her arms or legs, 7-year-old Antonia Verni told a jury yesterday what she wants to be when she grows up. "I want to be a singer, a rock star, a kindergarten teacher and a ballerina," Verni said, her melodic voice filling the tiny courtroom. Two jurors cried. Others shifted in their seats. Doctors say the Cliffside Park girl will never be able to walk as a result of a car accident when she was 2 years old, when a drunken football fan rammed his truck into her family's car as they were driving home from pumpkin picking. Verni testified on the second day of a civil trial in Superior Court in Bergen County in a case against Aramark, the Giants Stadium concessionaire that sold beers to the fan who crashed into the Vernis, Daniel Lanzaro.

December 9, 2004 NorthJersey.com
A drunken driver who rammed his truck into a young family's car in Hasbrouck Heights - paralyzing a 2-year-old girl for life and landing himself in prison for five years - openly admits that he was "beyond drunk" in the 1999 accident. But the buck doesn't stop there, lawyers for the Cliffside Park family contend. Aramark's beer servers, who sold more than a dozen beers to the driver at Giants Stadium during a game, are equally responsible, say the lawyers, who have taken the battle to the multinational food-service conglomerate. As a civil trial opened Wednesday in Superior Court in Hackensack, the first witness for the Verni family was Daniel Lanzaro, the drunken driver, who is still in prison. Lanzaro is a defendant, but is penniless and is testifying willingly. He testified that Aramark concession stands - contrary to state law and the company's internal rules - sold alcohol at the stadium to visibly intoxicated patrons. Aramark's lawyer, Brian Harris, told the jury during his opening statement that Lanzaro was a seasoned drinker who didn't display signs of intoxication when he was drunk. Even though Aramark's beer sellers are trained in identifying intoxicated people, Lanzaro fooled them, he said.

Gloucester County Jail
Woodbury, New Jersey
Prison Health Services

August 29, 2006 Gloucester County Times
A former Gloucester County Jail inmate and his significant other are suing the county, alleging that he contracted an often drug-resistant staph infection while locked up and then brought it home. Michael DiFelice of Deptford Township was an inmate at the jail for seven months, starting on April 11, 2005. Not long after his release on Nov. 1, DiFelice's "domestic partner" began exhibiting signs of the same infection, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court. DiFelice and Kelly Filipponi have both been diagnosed with the boil-like skin infection, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the county failed to properly inform its staff and inmates of other cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Also named in the lawsuit were the county department of corrections, the sheriff's department and Prison Health Services Inc. More than a dozen other lawsuits have been filed against the county from both former inmates and corrections officers at the jail.

July 13, 2006 Gloucester County Times
A fifth lawsuit filed against the county claims that a former inmate of the Gloucester County Jail became infected with staph while incarcerated there. Brantley Owens of Glassboro allegedly began "exhibiting signs and symptoms of an infection" caused by staphylococcus aureus bacteria shortly after his incarceration in August 2004, according to the complaint filed in Superior Court. Owens claims that jail officials knew of other cases of the often contagious and drug-resistant skin infection and failed to notify inmates and put policies in place to minimize or prevent exposure, according to the suit. Owens' suit is the fifth lodged against the county concerning staph infection -- one officer and two former inmates previously filed individual suits, and last month five people, corrections officers and their spouses, filed a joint suit. The most recent claim names the county, county freeholders, the county department of corrections, the county Sheriff's Department, Prison Health Services, Inc., former jail warden John Tevoli and former corrections director W. Stanley Nunn. County spokeswoman Debra Sellitto declined comment because the matter is in litigation. Owens' Attorney Scott McKinley, of the firm Hoffman and DiMuzio, has filed three other lawsuits on behalf of two former inmates as well as a corrections officer who claim they contracted staph while at the jail.

March 23, 2006 The Daily Journal
Gloucester County faces a third lawsuit over an outbreak of drug-resistant staph infections at the county jail in 2003 and 2004. The latest lawsuit -- filed by Jeffrey Maxie of Johnson City, Tenn., and his domestic companion, Marlene Byrnes of Westville -- accuses the county of failing to address the staph outbreak properly. The contagious skin infection can be fatal if untreated. Byrnes contracted staph from close contact with Maxie after he left the jail in April 2004, but before he was aware he had contracted it, said the couple's attorney, Scott C. McKinley. In a lawsuit filed last week in Gloucester County Superior Court, Maxie contends he contracted staph while in the jail on an unspecified charge in April 2004. The county "failed to inform the plaintiffs of the risk of exposure, failed to prevent said exposure, (and) failed to put procedures or policies (in) place to eliminate or minimize the risk of exposure," according to the lawsuit. County Counsel Samuel J. Leone could not be immediately reached for comment. The lawsuit also names as defendants the county freeholder board; the county's Department of Correctional Services; the Sheriff's Department; Prison Health Services Inc., which provides medical care at the jail; former warden John Tevoli; and W. Stanley Nunn, the former corrections director.

November 1, 2005 Courier-Post
A former inmate at Gloucester County Jail alleges in a lawsuit that negligent oversight of the jail caused him to contract a staph infection while he was incarcerated in 2003. The lawsuit, filed by Joseph Favacchia of Swedesboro, is the second to accuse the county of failing to properly address an outbreak of drug-resistant staph infections at the jail in 2003. The contagious skin infection can be fatal if untreated. Favacchia contends he contracted staph while in the jail on a violation of probation charge in November 2003. A year later, Favacchia learned that county officials had been aware of other cases of staph infections at the jail but "withheld and fraudulently concealed" that information, Favacchia contends in his complaint. The county "failed to inform the plaintiff of the risk of exposure, failed to prevent said exposure, (and) failed to put procedures or policies (in) place to eliminate or minimize the risk of exposure," according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also names as defendants the county freeholder board, the county's Department of Correctional Services, the county Sheriff's Department, Prison Health Services Inc., which provides medical care at the jail, former warden John Tevoli and W. Stanley Nunn, the former corrections director. In September 2004, county freeholders suspended Tevoli for two weeks without pay after determining he misled a Citizens Advisory Board about the extent of the staph outbreak. Tevoli resigned in January after two years as warden.

Hope Creek, Salem Nuclear Plants
Lower Alloways Creek Township, New Jersey
Wackenhut
July 26, 2013 northjersey.com

LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Federal regulators are worried that a security manager's firing from a job at a nuclear plant could deter employees and contractors from questioning safety at one of the nation's largest nuclear power stations. A federal jury in Camden last month concluded that the 2009 firing of Robert Scull was in retaliation for the manager's plan to tell the NRC about his safety concerns at the adjoining Hope Creek and Salem nuclear plants in Lower Alloways Creek Township, south of Wilmington, Del. Scull said he did not have enough assistants to maintain security of the plants, the second-largest nuclear generating facility in the U.S. He was awarded $400,000 and has since made court filings asking for his old job back. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a letter to plant operator PSEG Nuclear on Friday asking it to detail what actions the company was taking to ensure the firing doesn't have a chilling effect on other would-be whistleblowers. PSEG said in a statement that it is taking the matter seriously. "We are confident that the right nuclear safety-conscious work environment still exists within PSEG Nuclear and that employees and contractors are comfortable raising concerns," spokesman Joe Delmar said in a statement. "However, we are taking this opportunity to once again reinforce the nuclear safety culture expectations with our employees and leadership." PSEG was not part of the court case because the security manager worked for a private contractor, the Wackenhut Corp., which is now known as G4S Secure Solutions. But the NRC said in the letter that PSEG is responsible for the actions of contractors. "The finding that Wackenhut retaliated against the individual for engaging in a protected activity raises questions with the NRC as to whether the work environment at Salem and Hope Creek is such that employees are encouraged and willing to raise safety and regulatory concerns," said the letter from William Dean, an NRC regional administrator.

Hudson County Correctional Center
Hudson County, New Jersey
Aramark

September 8, 2010 The Jersey Journal
The Hudson County Board of Freeholders spent more than an hour tonight debating the merits of a food service company that is set to get a nearly $12 million contract at the Hudson County Correctional Center. Freeholder Bill O’Dea, of Jersey City, took issue with awarding the contract to Aramark Correctional Services LLC, saying the company had issues with a prior contract at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital, resulting in a $75,000 settlement with the county last year and an agreement that the company would not bid on future contracts. County Administrator Abe Antum said the company was not prohibited from bidding on the jail food service contract, because it was a completely separate issue from Meadowview. "The performance at the correctional center was satisfactory and they were views as separate services and separate contracts,” Antum said at tonight’s freeholder meeting. Freeholder Albert Cifelli, an attorney from Kearny, noted that at $11.77 million over three years, Aramark was the lowest bidder. By law the county must award the contract to the “lowest, responsible” bidder and Cifelli questioned whether the freeholders had the authority to determine that Aramark was not “responsible” per the contract standards. Both the board’s attorney, Edward Florio, and the county administration’s attorney, Donato Battista, said it was up to the administration to determine whether or not the company was the lowest, responsible bidder and recommend the contract to the board. O’Dea said he was concerned that the company had provided psychiatric patients with prison-grade meals, instead of hospital-grade meals, as required by the Meadowview contract. But Carol Ann Wilson, county director of Health and Human Services, said the issue had to do with staff not having the state-required qualifications to run the hospital’s kitchen. She said despite telling Aramark about the failure to meet state standards, which would put the hospital in risk of losing its certification and state reimbursements, the company did not comply with the terms of the contract. Wilson said a dietitian was not always available, as required. Freeholder Jose Munoz, of West New York, said he thought Aramark was using one dietician at both the jail and Meadowview, which may have contributed to the problems. Antum said a report was compiled by Meadowview and O’Dea asked for both a copy of the report and for the settlement agreement. An Aramark representative at tonight’s meeting said the issue was the result of a bad decision made by one manager and it should not reflect on the company as a whole. Nationwide, Aramark has over 500 correctional facility food contracts. O’Dea and Freeholder Jeff Dublin, of Jersey City, tried to table the contract until they received additional information, but didn’t get any of the other seven freeholders to support their motion.

Mammoth County Jail
Mammoth County, New Jersey
Gourmet Dining (formerly run by Aramark)

July 18, 2010 The Star-Ledger
Aramark is the giant of America’s food-service industry, topping Fortune’s list of the "World’s Most Admired Companies." So when Aramark, whose menu runs the gamut from lobster rolls at Boston’s Fenway Park to meals for most of New Jersey’s county inmates, came up short on a $12 million contract, it flexed its legal muscle. In a tug-of-war featuring a debate over pennies per meal and highlighting a criminal case against a competitor’s food-service executive, the Philadelphia giant fought a court ruling giving New Jersey competitor Gourmet Dining the very Essex County jail contract Aramark snatched from Gourmet in 2004. Then it relented. The 4-inch thick stack of legal briefs and exhibits is now closed. But the legal battle — brief as it was — offers insights into the clash of a food-service titan and its smaller competitor in the sometimes murky world of competitive bidding. On one hand, Aramark Correctional Services bid $1.32 a meal for each inmate, technically making it the lowest bidder. On the other, Gourmet Dining bid $1.42, technically losing. But Essex County rejected Aramark, saying its per-meal pricing wasn’t really "firm," as required by the bid specifications, and threw open the bidding anew — an action Gourmet says was a "thinly veiled attempt" to give Aramark time to fix its defective bid. On April 1, Madison-based Gourmet sued, making references to Aramark’s "monopoly" and asserting that its bid would actually save Essex $1.16 million over 3 years. Aramark countered, saying Gourmet was not a "responsible bidder" since the man it would put in charge of meals at the Essex County Correctional Facility had been fired by Aramark for embezzling funds. "It’s a good old-fashioned game of chicken," Professor Larry Bennett of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University said of the legal punches and counter-punches. It’s the second time the food-service competitors have squared off in a New Jersey courtroom. Just 16 months ago, Gourmet Dining won a ruling in Monmouth County, snatching a contract initially awarded to Aramark for that county’s inmates. "We’re pretty happy with it," Savino Russoniello Jr., the West Orange attorney representing Gourmet Dining, said of the latest outcome. "The county is going to be saving money with the new contract. The taxpayers are the winners here." That’s not the way Aramark sees it. "Our proposal would have provided the county with $800,000 in savings over the term of the contract compared with the selected bid," said Sarah Jarvis, an Aramark spokeswoman. But Aramark, which held Essex County’s contract from 2004 til now, wasn’t burning any bridges. "We delivered outstanding service to Essex County over the past seven years and hope we have the opportunity to do so again," she said. To James Paganelli, Essex County’s chief county counsel, the truth lies somewhere in the great divide. "They’re both going to give you a competing analysis," he said. Gourmet Dining’s legal complaint was just that, and a painstaking one. Gourmet, whose $40 million a year in revenues includes serving means to undergrads at Seton Hall University and executives at Hertz, asserted that Aramark was able to push up the price it charges for an inmate meal in Essex by 49 percent from March 2004 to May 2009. That was, in part, the basis for its argument that Aramark’s latest bid was not based on a "firm price" as required by the bid specifications, according to the lawsuit. On Feb. 18, Gourmet Dining protested in a letter to Essex County. Less than a month later, Essex rejected Aramark’s bid on the basis that it did not submit a "firm quote" and sent a memorandum of agreement to Gourmet Dining. But on March 26, the county instead rejected all bids and opted to rebid, altering the terms, noting "confusing and misleading" bid wording that created "uncertainty," and adding a provision disqualifying any bidder on the basis of a key executive’s criminal record. On June 23, in a 5-page opinion, Superior Court Judge Claude Coleman, sitting in Newark, rejected Essex’s decision to reopen the bids and ordered the county to award the contract to Gourmet. "Rejecting all bids was improper, without sound reasons, and was an abuse of discretion," Coleman ruled. "Aramark’s bid was not in compliance with the bid specifications." As for the former Aramark employee about to handle Gourmet Dining’s Essex contract, he pled guilty of theft by deception, was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend Gamblers Anonymous, according to court papers. Paganelli, the county counsel, said he listened to the judge’s advice on that issue. "Judge Coleman said, ‘You have the right to pick whoever that leader is going to be. Just tell them that person is not acceptable to you, and they’ll get you another person." Did Essex follow through? Paganelli was succinct. "Yep," he said.

April 10, 2009 Asbury Park Press
A new vendor will begin serving up meals to Monmouth County inmates and youth detainees May 1, thanks to last month's ruling by a Superior Court judge that county officials erred in awarding a three-year contract to a higher bidder. Gourmet Dining LLC of Madison will take over the work — but only after the county makes one final payment to rival vendor Aramark Correctional Services LLC for providing the food service while the contract was in dispute. The county freeholders on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution paying Aramark $729,000 for service from the start of the year until April 30. The amount covers 488,000 Monmouth County Jail staff and inmate meals at $1.35 per serving and 733 religious meals at $3.82 each; plus 21,500 detainee and staff meals at $2.92 each at the Youth Detention Center. Both facilities are in Freehold Township. "The resolution is necessary as part of the court decision to change vendors, because Aramark continued vending services past the date of the former contract," Purchasing Director Gerri C. Popkin said.

March 6, 2009 Asbury Park Press
A Superior Court judge has set aside a prison food contract award to Aramark and ordered the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders to pass a resolution giving the work to a lower bidder, Gourmet Dining LLC of Madison. Judge James P. Hurley said the freeholders -- acting on a recommendation from the Sheriff's Department -- were wrong to toss out Gourmet Dining's bid on the basis of lacking substantial experience from past work in prisons. Gourmet Dining's attorney, Thomas P. Scrivo, argued during a Feb. 18 hearing that the company had served over 40 million meals when it held Essex County jail contracts from 1991 to 2004. "Gourmet's 13 years of experience providing on-site meals speaks to Gourmet's compliance with the specifications,'' the judge said in his written decision issued today. County taxpayers will be on the hook for legal fees from the case but will save money on the change in contract. The county will pay $155,360 less annually than it would have paid Aramark, and could save $466,000 over the life of the three-year contract. The contract also allows for two one-year renewals. Aramark held the previous contract that expired in December and has continued as the vendor during the period of dispute. Gourmet Dining's one-year bid price is $2,836,514 compared to Aramark's $2,992,000. Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Cynthia Scott said no date has been selected for the change in vendors to occur. "The freeholders still have to act by resolution but as a practical matter we plan to move forward with a smooth transition,'' Scott said. "The Monmouth County Sheriff's Office always welcomes competition and plans to work closely with Gourmet Dining to ensure that the comparable level of quality and quantity of food services will be maintained at the jail.'' The case was heard in Superior Court in Middlesex County after being transferred from Monmouth County.

February 10, 2009 Asbury Park Press
Arguments will be heard by a Superior Court judge today over whether Monmouth County should be ordered to reopen its $3 million contract award for prison food so that a lower bidder can be considered for the work. Acting on the recommendations of the Sheriff's Office and county purchasing officials, the county freeholders voted unanimously in December to award the contract to feed inmates at the Monmouth County jail and youth detention center to Aramark, a Philadelphia-based company that has held the contract since 1991. Gourmet Dining of Madison submitted a bid of $2.5 million, about 18 percent lower than Aramark's bid, but the low bid was rejected because county officials said the company lacked jail experience. However, Gourmet Dining attorneys are expected to argue today the company served some 42 million meals to inmates in the Essex County jail system from 1991 to 2004. The case will be heard by Middlesex County Superior Court Judge James P. Hurley. The challange was filed by Gourmet Dining in Monmouth County, then transferred to Middlesex.

Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital
Meadowview, New Jersey
Aramark

September 8, 2010 The Jersey Journal
The Hudson County Board of Freeholders spent more than an hour tonight debating the merits of a food service company that is set to get a nearly $12 million contract at the Hudson County Correctional Center. Freeholder Bill O’Dea, of Jersey City, took issue with awarding the contract to Aramark Correctional Services LLC, saying the company had issues with a prior contract at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital, resulting in a $75,000 settlement with the county last year and an agreement that the company would not bid on future contracts. County Administrator Abe Antum said the company was not prohibited from bidding on the jail food service contract, because it was a completely separate issue from Meadowview. "The performance at the correctional center was satisfactory and they were views as separate services and separate contracts,” Antum said at tonight’s freeholder meeting. Freeholder Albert Cifelli, an attorney from Kearny, noted that at $11.77 million over three years, Aramark was the lowest bidder. By law the county must award the contract to the “lowest, responsible” bidder and Cifelli questioned whether the freeholders had the authority to determine that Aramark was not “responsible” per the contract standards. Both the board’s attorney, Edward Florio, and the county administration’s attorney, Donato Battista, said it was up to the administration to determine whether or not the company was the lowest, responsible bidder and recommend the contract to the board. O’Dea said he was concerned that the company had provided psychiatric patients with prison-grade meals, instead of hospital-grade meals, as required by the Meadowview contract. But Carol Ann Wilson, county director of Health and Human Services, said the issue had to do with staff not having the state-required qualifications to run the hospital’s kitchen. She said despite telling Aramark about the failure to meet state standards, which would put the hospital in risk of losing its certification and state reimbursements, the company did not comply with the terms of the contract. Wilson said a dietitian was not always available, as required. Freeholder Jose Munoz, of West New York, said he thought Aramark was using one dietician at both the jail and Meadowview, which may have contributed to the problems. Antum said a report was compiled by Meadowview and O’Dea asked for both a copy of the report and for the settlement agreement. An Aramark representative at tonight’s meeting said the issue was the result of a bad decision made by one manager and it should not reflect on the company as a whole. Nationwide, Aramark has over 500 correctional facility food contracts. O’Dea and Freeholder Jeff Dublin, of Jersey City, tried to table the contract until they received additional information, but didn’t get any of the other seven freeholders to support their motion.

Morris County Jail
Morris County, New Jersey
Aramark

June 23, 2005
In the usual scenario, people caught using heroin go to jail, but last week authorities discovered the obverse is also true: People who go to jail get caught using heroin.  Two women, Mount Olive Township resident and former state prisoner Karen Ryerson, 42, and Newark resident Leslie Harwell, 36, a worker in the Morris County Jail cafeteria, were charged with heroin distribution.  Harwell is employed by Aramark, a Pennsylvania-based food service company. She was arrested Sunday after allegedly selling drugs inside the jail, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.  She was charged with possession of heroin and possession with intent to distribute. She is being held in a cell in the jail where she worked on $50,000 bail.  Ryerson was arrested Monday after authorities determined she had been the supplier of the heroin to Harwell. She was charged with possession of heroin and heroin distribution. She is being held in the Morris County jail on $100,000 bail.  According to the Prosecutor’s Office, a corrections internal affairs officer had learned last Thursday that Harwell was allegedly selling the drugs. Harwell was allegedly able to bring in the drugs because employees are not searched upon entry, Rubbinaccio said. Harwell has been employed at the jail since mid-May. Aramark employees prepare food in the jail’s kitchen and help train inmates in food preparation. She has no criminal record, Rubbinaccio said.

New Jersey Department of Corrections
Community Education Centers, Correctional Medical Services, Life Skills Academy

August 14, 2012 New York Times
The Christie administration said on Tuesday that it had issued $45,000 in fines against New Jersey halfway houses from which nine inmates escaped in recent months, the harshest penalties ever brought against the troubled network of private operators. The halfway houses were fined for failing to quickly report escapees to state officials and for recording inmates who had escaped as present. In other cases, supervisors failed to keep track of inmates who had fled from work-release programs or slipped away before being sent back to prison, corrections officials said. The inmates escaped from six different halfway houses, including two run by Community Education Centers, a company that dominates the state’s halfway house system and has drawn scrutiny because of its close ties to Gov. Chris Christie. Hundreds of inmates escape from the state’s halfway houses each year, but authorities have previously done little to crack down on the problem. No penalties had ever been brought against halfway house operators until officials learned of The New York Times’s 10-month investigation into escapes and other problems at the privately run centers, which can be as big as prisons but have little of their security. Corrections officials said on Tuesday that the penalties would improve the performances of the halfway houses, which hold parolees and inmates nearing the end of their sentences. The State Legislature held two days of hearings last month into halfway house problems raised by the Times articles, including gang activity, violence and drug use inside the centers. Lawmakers have vowed to introduce bills increasing halfway house oversight and tightening the contracting procedures. Senator Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from Bergenfield, said that it was “gratifying” to see the Corrections Department beginning to hold halfway houses accountable. “This is a step in the right direction, but it’s only a first step,” said Mr. Gordon, who is chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee, which held a hearing into the halfway houses last month. “I think we actually need to change the rules of the game.” The halfway house companies were notified last week of the fines, which came after a review of all the escapes over the past nine months.

June 16, 2011 NJ 101.5
State Comptroller Matt Boxer is questioning the State Department of Corrections (DOC) about the state's largest halfway house provider, Education and Health Centers of America, Inc. (EHCA), because of its subcontracting arrangement with a for-profit company, Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC). Under state law, only non-profits can provide halfway house services. Boxer says EHCA pays CEC the entire contracted per diem rates. Of $400 million the state has paid EHCA since 1997, EHCA has paid CEC approximately $390 million to provide "all the services" under EHCA's public contracts, including the "operation, support services management and maintenance" of the facilities. "One of the issues that we found is that there are questions about the eligibility of one of those halfway houses to be a part of this program," explains Boxer. "We sent a letter to the Department of Corrections suggesting that on this issue they seek formal legal advice from the (State) Attorney General's Office and they've agreed to do that." Bill Palatucci is one of Governor Chris Christie's closest allies. He's a senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs at CEC and the director of development at EHCA. He says CEC has had no new contracts since 1998. "We're still operating under the same agreement that was approved by Attorney General back then, so we're a bit puzzled by the report," says Palatucci. "We'll take a look and talk to the Department of Corrections about it."

June 15, 2011 NJ 101.5
New Jersey's Corrections Department does not adequately monitor state-funded halfway houses, according to a new audit by the state comptroller. The audit released Wednesday found the state failed to take appropriate action against state-funded halfway house providers following inmate escapes. The state also overpaid other providers and paid some providers that were not fully accredited. "It is critical that the state takes a more active role in ensuring the success of these programs," State Comptroller Matthew Boxer said. "It cannot simply cut these halfway houses a check and hope for the best." The state is spending nearly $65 million this year on the program which handles an average of 2,720 residents daily. The homes are intended to prepare them for re-entry into society. Among other findings, the report said the state overpaid 10 private halfway house providers by $587,000 over a six-year period because of miscalculated per diem rates charged by the providers which varied wildly -- from $0 per inmate bed to $7,354 per inmate bed -- among the non-profit providers. The comptroller also found that the state failed to adequately supervise the facilities and fine those facilities that let residents with disciplinary problems leave before they could be re-incarcerated. The audit noted that six halfway house residents waiting to be transported back to prison by correctional officers were able to escape because they were not placed in a secured holding area within the halfway house as required by contract. In three of those instances, a secured area did not even exist on the halfway house premises. Under contracts with the facilities, the state could have fined each provider $30,000 per escape but did not. Additionally, the report found that the state failed to meet its own guidelines monitoring the halfway houses. In 2009 DOC documented spending 104 days checking the houses when more than 600 days were required; two facilities received no documented visits, the report said. The comptroller also questioned about the state's largest provider because of its subcontracting arrangement with a for-profit company.

August 12, 2008 The Star-Ledger
Correctional Medical Services said it plans to lay off 949 workers in New Jersey next month, after losing its $85 million contract for prison health care services in the state to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. CMS, a private St. Louis firm, notified the state it would begin the layoffs on Sept. 30, a day before UMDNJ begins providing service to New Jersey Department of Corrections inmates. A majority of the workers facing layoffs are expected to be offered jobs with the university, UMDNJ spokesman Gerald Carey said. "Current employees of Correctional Medical Services have been encouraged to apply for positions with UMDNJ and we are in the process of reviewing those applications," Carey wrote in an email. CMS lost its contract earlier this year, and protested that the switch to UMDNJ was made through an interagency award, not a competitive bidding process. "The Treasury Department's decision to award a no-bid $100 million plus annual contract to a state entity will increase the state payrolls by several hundred workers, costing New Jersey taxpayers millions of dollars," CMS spokesman Ken Fields said in a statement.

April 27, 2008 Asbury Park Press
The administration of Gov. Corzine is awarding a no-bid pact to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to provide medical care for New Jersey's prison inmates. The move, which the administration views as a money-saver, is being scrutinized by some who fear the shift might actually cost the cash-strapped state, and by extension its taxpayers, more than its deal with a private contractor. These critics worry UMDNJ is ill-equipped to handle the job. Federal investigators found that the state-financed health-care university fumbled away more than $400 million through fraudulent and wasteful spending, though it has recently instituted reforms. Also, UMDNJ has a foggy track record in care-giving to prisoners. UMDNJ in 2005 got the state's OK to provide mental-health care for the inmates, and costs thereafter shot up — 50 percent over what what the private company that was doing the work charged, said John Paul Doyle, a former Democratic assemblyman who now represents the company. State Treasurer David Rousseau, disputing that amount, has said he foresees nothing to indicate costs would now go up. "It is expected the UMDNJ arrangement will reduce the state's overall costs," Rousseau told the Senate Budget Committee." Since the mid-1990s, the physical and dental care for the 27,600 state inmates — plus another 14,000 held in county facilities — has been provided by Correctional Medical Services, of St. Louis, whose latest New Jersey contract is worth $85 million. Last October, the state's inspector general issued a harsh report about CMS, saying it overcharged and had been out of compliance with its New Jersey contract. "It should be competitively bid," said Sen. Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon, the budget czar of the Republican caucus. "The lowest bidder should be awarded the contract. That could be in the private sector or the public sector."

April 15, 2008 Star-Ledger
Correctional Medical Services is fighting the state's decision to cancel its $85 million annual contract to provide medical, dental and pharmaceutical services to state prisoners. The company filed a protest letter Friday, alleging that the state's decision to replace it with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey violates state bidding laws and could cost the state $50 million more a year if history is a guide. John Paul Doyle, a former Democratic assemblyman who now represents the company, wrote that the state's cost for providing mental health services for inmates jumped nearly 50 percent in 2005 when it switched from the St. Louis-based company CMS to UMDNJ. "Based on past history and the current budgetary crisis in New Jersey, this unadvertised award, remarkably made in the midst of the existing four-year contract with CMS, makes no sense for the state of New Jersey," Doyle wrote in his letter to the state Treasury Department. He also said the company would forgo a 4.73 percent increase to cover costs associated with caring for the 27,600 inmates in state prisons and an additional 1,400 in mates being held daily in county facilities until a state cell is available. During a Senate Budget Committee hearing yesterday, state Treasurer David Rousseau disputed that it would cost $50 million more to use UMDNJ to provide medical, dental and pharmaceutical services to state prisoners. "We see no basis for this contention," Rousseau said. "In fact, based on the assessment of costs and charges, it is expected the UMDNJ arrangement will reduce the state's overall costs." He said the state hopes to save $3.4 million in built-in profits for CMS and another $5.5 million by enrolling in a pharmaceutical plan --for which CMS cannot qualify -- that caps how much UMDNJ will pay for medication. The treasurer did acknowledge that the state's payroll costs would be greater because it will have to hire more staff, including some of the 800 medical workers who now work for CMS, and pay them fringe benefits. Rousseau also took issue with CMS' numbers on the mental health services contract, saying the state's cost jumped from $33 million to $43.4 million when it switched, not $49 million as the company claimed. He added that the price jumped because the state hired more workers to satisfy a federal settlement that governs how the Department of Corrections cares for mentally ill prisoners. CMS spokesman Ken Fields said the figures came from public budget documents, but "in any event, it's a significant increase over one year compared with CMS."

April 1, 2008 Star-Ledger
The state has canceled its $85 million annual contract with a St. Louis-based company that has provided medical, dental and pharmaceutical services to state prisoners since New Jersey privatized its inmate health care system in 1996, officials said yesterday. The state Treasury Department notified Correctional Medical Services on Friday that it planned to replace it with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the state's medical school, according to a copy of a letter obtained by The Star-Ledger. UMDNJ already provides mental health services for state inmates. CMS, whose contract expired last night, had sought a 4.73 percent increase to cover costs associated with caring for the 27,600 inmates in state prisons and an additional 14,000 inmates being held in county facilities until a state cell is available. "The state has decided that it is in its best interest to contract with the University of Medicine and Dentistry to provide all of the inmate health care services," wrote Alice Small, acting director of Treasury's Division of Purchase and Property. The move ends a contentious 11-year relationship with CMS that was launched during then-Gov. Christie Whitman's push to privatize government services. It comes months after the state auditor and the state inspector general issued separate reports critical of the company. It also gives the state-funded university a shot in the arm as it tries to emerge from federal oversight that documented more than $400 million in fraudulent and wasteful spending. The state told CMS it would need to continue staffing inmate health services for 180 days so UMDNJ personnel can get up to speed. Treasury spokesman Tom Vinz said the state believes the new arrangement, which will be enacted through an interagency compact rather than through public bidding, will "improve both the bottom line as well as services." He said officials don't know exactly how much the state would save. "We believe that overall costs will be extremely competitive with the current contract and that the expanded partnership will result in new economies, efficiencies and conveniences that benefit the state," Vinz said. The cancellation came as a shock to CMS, which employs more than 800 health care professionals in New Jersey to handle the state inmate contract, said spokesman Ken Fields. He said the rate increase was pegged to the Consumer Price Index but "was well below the rate of inflation facing all other areas of health care in New Jersey." "The state has been extremely satisfied with our work and has never given us an indication that they would prefer to make a change in contractors," said Fields. "We are disappointed that the state appears to have started a process that would not include getting any competitive bids. It has been our experience that state and local governments feel that a competitive bidding process results in the best value for them." UMDNJ spokeswoman Anna Farneski said the new agreement is "an enormous vote of confidence in UMDNJ's abilities to effectively deliver care to a population in need of comprehensive services." The state paid the medical school $49 million last year to provide mental health services for inmates. Attorney Patricia Perlmutter, who reached a class-action lawsuit in 1999 against the Department of Correction on behalf of mentally ill inmates, said canceling the CMS contract is the end of "a failed experiment." "For years, they delivered very poor service to the prisoners in the state," she said. "There certainly was improvement over time. The number of complaints we would receive did diminish the last year of contract term. But overall they didn't deliver what they promised."

October 16, 2007 AP
For the second time in two years, an audit has found that the Corrections Department failed to adequately monitor its multimillion dollar contract for inmate dental services. Monday's report by Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper mirrors a 2005 audit by Treasury's contract compliance unit. Both concluded that Corrections could not guarantee that inmates were getting services that were paid for or that the state wasn't overpaying the provider, Correctional Medical Services. The inspector general also found that Corrections did not fine the provider for missing deadlines spelled out in the contract, even though it could have collected $1 million or more for screenings that were not conducted within a specified time of a new inmate's arrival. The quality of medical and dental care was not considered. Both reports blamed Corrections' automated systems for being incapable of collecting and retaining the data necessary to monitor compliance with the contract. Correctional Medical Services was awarded a two-year, $168 million contract in April 2005 to provide health services to about 40,000 inmates a year, including a dental portion worth $7.5 million. The contract was renewed for one year in April, Corrections spokesman Matt Schuman said. The report says the contract dictates that certain services be performed within specific time frames — and gives Corrections the authority to assess damages for missed deadlines — because of concerns over provider performance that developed during a prior health services contract. An initial Treasury audit in 2005 showed that Corrections did not have an automated information system capable of providing data to monitor the contract. When a system was finally put in place, it relied on the vendor to enter data, the inspector general's report shows, and had flaws. Schuman said Monday that Corrections had not yet seen the report and would have no comment. Ken Fields, a spokesman for Correctional Medical Services in St. Louis, Mo., also said he was unfamiliar with the report and could not comment.

February 28, 2007 The Star-Ledger
Criticizing the state for trying to shirk its responsibility to provide inmates adequate health care, the New Jersey Supreme Court today ordered the prison system to develop regulations on how to notify inmates when they have a serious medical condition. In its unanimous ruling the high court also ordered the Department of Corrections to give inmates access to their complete medical records and to correct those records if they are inaccurate, since both are essential to adequate medical care. "This is a major victory for the medical rights of prisoners," said Princeton attorney Bruce Afran, who argued the case on behalf of a New Jersey State Prison inmate. "Every other patient in the state has a right to their own medical records and the state was refusing that right to prisoners. The court has now reversed that." The case stems from "one inmate's odyssey to correct an erroneous entry in his medical records," Justice Virginia Long wrote in the court's opinion. The inmate, identified only as J.D.A. because he fears retribution in prison, suffers from hepatitis C, a potentially fatal liver disease. He tested positive for the disease in 2001, but a prison-contracted doctor misread the test results and noted in his file the virus was "not detected." When he learned of the mistake two years later, J.D.A. filed paperwork to have it changed. Correctional Medical Services, the private company responsible for treating New Jersey's 27,000 state inmates, refused to change his medical chart because it was "a legal document" that cannot be altered, court records show. Corrections, meanwhile, claimed only CMS had the "ability to make changes to an inmate's medical record."

February 5, 2007 The Star Ledger
Walking across the courtroom, Jerald Albrecht fell and hit the floor. It was emblematic, perhaps, of his status among the righteous that no one rose to help him. The convict, a sick man, tripped over his leg shackles. Albrecht, 50, is suing a company paid nearly $100 million a year in public funds to provide health care to 27,000 state prison inmates. He contends Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis failed to provide timely diagnosis and treatment of an often fatal disease that infects him and a large number of fellow inmates -- hepatitis C. He is not the first inmate to sue -- handling the infection among convicts is a controversy that has raged for five years in New Jersey -- but he is conducting a complex legal trial completely on his own. Albrecht, imprisoned for robbery 22 years ago, has no lawyer, no legal training, not even a bachelor's degree. And he is clearly not well. He is up against (literally) Philadelphia lawyers and a judge who has thrown out much of his case by refusing to allow witnesses on which he relied heavily. Federal District Judge Anne Thompson in Trenton cannot help his case, but some of her rulings seem unduly harsh. For example, she enthusiastically allowed a volunteer attorney -- Bruce Afrin of Princeton -- to help Albrecht conduct a direct examination of himself, but then stopped it, in front of the jury, for no apparent reason. She dismissed Afrin, saying the process wasn't "working," but did not explain why. Albrecht recovered. He elicited dramatic testimony from his own expert witness -- Esteban Mezey, a liver specialist from Johns Hopkins University, who was critical of his treatment. He held up well under cross-examination from the Philadelphia lawyers. And, the other day, the day he fell, Albrecht conducted his own cross-examination of the company's expert witness, a professor named Carroll Leevy, and the contrast with what the legal pros did was remarkable. Thompson harried Albrecht as he tried to ask questions, but let Leevy deliver long, unsolicited lectures as responses. His speeches ate up the inmate's time and often sounded, not like testimony, but arguments for the company paying him $2,500 that day to testify. In the end, however, the performance helped Albrecht. One issue is the amount of medication he received once treatment, delayed for months, finally began. Leevy insisted a lesser amount -- given by the company -- was appropriate, but Albrecht got the doctor to admit that he prescribed more of the drug for his own patients and wrote at least one scholarly article recommending a higher dosage. More important, Leevy, a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, showed little patience and no compassion for the likes of Albrecht, a man who must navigate a courtroom in a beige prison uniform, shackles and a fever. And who falls without help. Leevy said the nearly two-year delay in treating Albrecht "would not make a significant difference," in his condition but, under Albrecht's questioning, Leevy conceded he would never treat his own patients that way. "It's always pleasant to have things done in a timely manner," said Leevy, who then added, in a bizarre moment, that Albrecht may even have benefited from the delay because, while he wasn't being treated, new, more effective medications were developed. Pleasant? Meanwhile, damage to Albrecht's liver worsened. Then, while discussing drugs to be used, Leevy said even his private patients might not have access to the best medications. "Unfortunately not being in prison and not being able to get free drugs," he said, they couldn't afford them. The comment drew gasps from the audience and dark stares from jurors. Who could imagine that, no matter what Albrecht did to deserve time, he was "fortunate" to be in jail, suffering from a fatal disease? After his testimony, he was asked whether the comment was "a little harsh." No, said Leevy, because "that was the reality." The testimony reflected an attitude that Albrecht and other inmates want courts, want everyone, to see: State prisons and their private contractors were in no rush to diagnose and treat thousands of inmates suffering from hepatitis C. Because prisoners are bad guys. Who wants to spend money to help them? Never mind that returning sick prisoners to freedom creates health risks for the general population. And never mind, no matter what he did, Albrecht is a citizen with constitutional rights. As well as a mean guitarist who persuaded a thoroughly nonjudgmental Wynton Marsalis to come to the prison to give a master class to a jazz combo Albrecht started. And, most of all, even in shackles, Jerald Albrecht is a man.

July 25, 2006 The Record
New Jersey prison officials failed to make sure that a contractor who was guaranteed $1.5 million a year actually taught inmates or even checked to see if his "life skills" classes worked, the state auditor has found. Trenton-based Life Skills Academy Inc. was allowed to essentially monitor its own progress and bill the state without any supervision, the audit found. Attendance was not properly tracked and, in at least one case, inmates did not take the required amount of training, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Record. Life Skills Academy appears to be the only contractor whose payment is required in the state budget -- an arrangement so unusual the auditor decided to issue a separate report on the program's deficiencies. Records at one prison showed that inmates attended 60 hours of classes, rather than the required 80 hours. A list of inmates who graduated from the same prison, which was not named, included the name of "facilitators" who had already taken the class, the report found Life Skills Academy is run by Emmanuel ben Avraham, a controversial community activist who worked first in Newark and later in Trenton. The company Web site proudly boasts of its ability to teach troubled inmates the skills to make decisions and "empower them to take control of their lives and actions." It features a slide show of photographs that include inmates as well as celebrities such as Whitney Houston. One video shows Avraham's wife, Elianah Avraham, listed as the company's chief of staff, excoriating inmates in a fiery presentation that sounds more like a sermon or a stump speech than a classroom lecture.

December 21, 2004 The Record
Others spoke about how it was a "day of promise." Bringing in the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to manage mental health care in the state prison system creates a unique partnership between academia and the judicial system, they said. But as state officials were all smiles during this October announcement, Chris Kosseff, who heads UMDNJ's University Behavioral HealthCare division, painted a darker, more realistic picture of the mental health care crisis in state prisons. Facing a group of health professionals, state officials and reporters at the Department of Corrections' Trenton headquarters, Kosseff read from a study published by the Human Rights Watch that talks about how many prison mental health services are "woefully deficient, crippled by understaffing, insufficient facilities and limited programs. Beginning Jan. 1, UMDNJ will provide behavioral health services to the state's 27,000 prisoners - 13 percent of whom have some form of mental illness.
UMDNJ will replace Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis as the state's prison mental health care provider.

November 18, 2004 Daily Record
Former Chester resident Craig Szemple, who is serving three life terms for murdering three people, will be allowed to continue his lawsuit against a state prison medical group he claims neglected to give him physical therapy he needed immediately after elbow and wrist surgery, a state appeals court has ruled.
As a New Jersey State Prison inmate, Szemple underwent two surgeries related to carpal tunnel syndrome on Nov. 7, 1996, on his right wrist and elbow. The surgeon ordered physical therapy to begin "ASAP" but Correctional Medical Services, the conglomerate with the contract to administer health services to some 26,000 state prisoners, did not arrange for Szemple to have a physical therapy evaluation until March 17, 1997. Acting as his own lawyer, Szemple in November 1998 sued Correctional Medical Services and the state Department of Corrections, alleging that he was given substandard care and his wrist and elbow worsened as a result of not receiving immediate physical therapy. The medical group tried unsuccessfully several times to get Szemple's lawsuit dismissed. Its lawyers finally succeeded in 2003, when a judge in Mercer County dismissed the lawsuit, mainly on grounds that a chiropractor whom Szemple wanted to use to prove his case was not qualified to do so. The appeals court, in its opinion released Wednesday, reinstated Correctional Medical Services as a defendant in the lawsuit, saying that the chiropractor is qualified to give his opinion about the treatment Szemple received.

October 30, 2004 Daily Journal
A state Department of Corrections employee has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by a clinical social worker and five other unnamed defendants, according to court papers filed with Gloucester County Superior Court.
The suit, filed Tuesday, claims that licensed social worker Robert Stanley subjected Southwoods State Prison employee Tony Valentine to "a pattern of sexual harassment" and "engaged in a pattern of retaliatory and defamatory activity" designed to embarrass him, according to court documents. Valentine filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Division in Nov. 2003, leading to an investigation. The EED concluded Stanley's actions were inflammatory, and recommended his employer, Correctional Medical Services, take remedial action, which the lawsuit alleges was never taken.

October 7, 2002
New Jersey prisons failed to tell hundreds of inmates that they were infected with the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus, in many cases withholding the information for more than a year  In a mass notification prompted by a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation, New Jersey prison officials told 421 inmates in the last two weeks of July of their infection, a medical audit shows.   Uninformed patients can spread the blood-borne disease through shared drug paraphernalia, sex and possibly even blood droplets on shared toothbrushes.   In fact, 21 prisoners were recently released into the community without being told they were infected, according to the audit.   Art Caplan, a medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that failing to tell patients about a potentially life-threatening condition was a fundamental breach of standard medical practice.   "The key moral issue is that every person, including a prisoner, has a right to know his health status," Caplan said.   The prisons' private medical vendor, Correctional Medical Services (CMS), said some of the 421 inmates had been told prior to July but it had not been noted in their electronic files.   CMS spokesman Ken Fields said that because of problems transferring paper records to a computer system, it was impossible to determine how many had prior notification.   When pressed for a number, Fields said that "in some cases," inmates already knew.   The delay in notification raises legal issues as well. The nation's courts have a long tradition of ruling in favor of a patient's right to know. In addition, New Jersey has a "Patient Bill of Rights" that reinforces this right for hospital patients.  How that will happen is not clear.   CMS last summer left hepatitis C out of its bid to renew its medical contract with the state prisons.   CMS, which has held the contract for six years, wanted to increase its fee by 30 percent, or about $30 million a year, not including hepatitis C care. Its bid said it would treat and test for hepatitis C only if the state itself picked up the bill.   Brown said the state rejected the CMS bid because it failed to cover hepatitis C treatment.   With the current CMS contract expiring at the end of this month, and no other bidders, Brown said the state will have to come up with alternatives - such as dividing the state's prisons into different regions to encourage more competitive bidding or putting out another request for bids.  (Bradenton Herald)

New Jersey Legislature
Prisons, Privatization, Patronage: by Paul Krugman, The New York Times, June 22, 2012. Over the past few days, The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey's system of halfway houses - privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons.
As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives: by Sam Dolnick, New York Times, June 16, 2012. After serving more than a year behind bars in New Jersey for assaulting a former girlfriend, David Goodell was transferred in 2010 to a sprawling halfway house in Newark.
Essex County immigrant detention center a house of controversy: Chris Megerian, The Star-Ledger. Despite the barbed wire snaking across the top of its perimeter fence, Delaney Hall is not a traditional lock-up.

August 14, 2012 New York Times
The Christie administration said on Tuesday that it had issued $45,000 in fines against New Jersey halfway houses from which nine inmates escaped in recent months, the harshest penalties ever brought against the troubled network of private operators. The halfway houses were fined for failing to quickly report escapees to state officials and for recording inmates who had escaped as present. In other cases, supervisors failed to keep track of inmates who had fled from work-release programs or slipped away before being sent back to prison, corrections officials said. The inmates escaped from six different halfway houses, including two run by Community Education Centers, a company that dominates the state’s halfway house system and has drawn scrutiny because of its close ties to Gov. Chris Christie. Hundreds of inmates escape from the state’s halfway houses each year, but authorities have previously done little to crack down on the problem. No penalties had ever been brought against halfway house operators until officials learned of The New York Times’s 10-month investigation into escapes and other problems at the privately run centers, which can be as big as prisons but have little of their security. Corrections officials said on Tuesday that the penalties would improve the performances of the halfway houses, which hold parolees and inmates nearing the end of their sentences. The State Legislature held two days of hearings last month into halfway house problems raised by the Times articles, including gang activity, violence and drug use inside the centers. Lawmakers have vowed to introduce bills increasing halfway house oversight and tightening the contracting procedures. Senator Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from Bergenfield, said that it was “gratifying” to see the Corrections Department beginning to hold halfway houses accountable. “This is a step in the right direction, but it’s only a first step,” said Mr. Gordon, who is chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee, which held a hearing into the halfway houses last month. “I think we actually need to change the rules of the game.” The halfway house companies were notified last week of the fines, which came after a review of all the escapes over the past nine months.

August 8, 2012 New York Times
Gov. Chris Christie’s administration came under heavy criticism from legislators last month at hearings on New Jersey’s privately run halfway houses, which handle thousands of inmates each year. On Wednesday, Mr. Christie fired back, saying he would significantly weaken a measure approved by the legislators to increase their oversight of the system. It was the second time Mr. Christie moved to weaken new regulations for halfway houses. The Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a bill in June that required the state auditor to conduct reviews of major corrections contracts with private operators, including those with a halfway house company that dominates the system and has close ties to Mr. Christie. But the governor, a Republican, said Wednesday that he would sign the law only if all existing contracts, including those with halfway house operators, were exempted from the audits. He described the provision, freeing those contracts and their renewals from review, in a footnote toward the end of a four-page statement on the bill. Both the State Senate and the State Assembly have held hearings and approved oversight measures for the system in response to a series of articles in The New York Times in June about the system. The articles described escapes, violence, security lapses, drug use and other problems at the halfway houses, some of which are as large as prisons.

July 29, 2012 Star-Ledger
Democrats must be salivating at the chance to expose a nefarious relationship between Gov. Chris Christie and his pal, William Palatucci, an executive with the company that runs New Jersey’s halfway houses. They’ve held legislative hearings to question Palatucci’s employer, Community Education Centers, about its troubled track record. So far, there’s no evidence of anything improper between the governor and his friend, and most of the problems reported in a recent New York Times investigation of CEC took place before Christie took office. But there’s enough concern about the company and its financial health that a closer look is in order. The state’s comptroller, Matthew Boxer, should investigate. These are our concerns: •
Crime: The newspaper report cited a pattern of escapes, gang activity, violence and drug use at CEC’s halfway houses in New Jersey — held up as a national model for helping inmates move smoothly back into the community. There have been more than 5,000 escapes and parole absconders from the halfway houses since 2005, the report said. In one facility, violence was so rampant that inmates asked to go back to prison. As New Jersey takes steps to keep nonviolent offenders out of state prisons, are we allowing a new level of violent incarceration take shape? •Finances: A federal lawsuit brought by a fired executive claims CEC defaulted on its debt in 2009 and was close to bankruptcy in 2010. Documents show deep staff cuts and, inside CEC, worries about meeting payroll. The company called those lies, though it acknowledges CEC has suffered in the economic downturn. What happens if the company that saw 7,700 inmates and parolees pass through its doors last year suddenly can’t pay its bills? •Influence: Does CEC have a guardian angel? Lawmakers were concerned enough about CEC’s finances to include a requirement in the state budget for quarterly reports on CEC’s operations and finances. But Christie used his line-item veto to strike part of those requirements, including the quarterly mandate. His office said it was “burdensome.” Palatucci, CEC’s senior vice president and general counsel, is a former law partner and close friend of Christie. Both insist they’ve never misused that relationship. “We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure the governor is insulated from any of the activities of the company in New Jersey,” Palatucci said. But did others? In an e-mail to a longtime investor after Christie was elected, CEO John Clancy boasted about Palatucci’s friendship. It’s not the first time there have been questions. After an audit last year criticized lax oversight of the halfway house program, the Department of Corrections tripled its inspections and started fining the company for escapes. Problems with escapes, violence and drugs have improved. Boxer’s office has said it will conduct a follow-up audit. That’s a start. What’s needed is a formal investigation, which has more latitude. The comptroller’s role as a government watchdog, which includes power to subpoena CEC’s records, could expose deep-seated money problems before they explode. Or, it could put lingering questions to rest. Either way, it’s a sensible next step. Boxer should have at it.

July 18, 2012 The Record
Senate Democrats released their witness list for tomorrow’s hearing into the state’s halfway house system. Matthew Boxer, the state comptroller, and Gary Lanigan, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, have been asked to testify, according to the Senate Democrats. Also on the list is John J. Clancy, chairman and CEO of Community Education Centers. Community Education Centers has been at the center of recent controversy over the state’s privately run halfway house system, which was the subject of a series of New York Times articles last month. The series focused on escapes and dangerous conditions inside the houses. The articles highlighted the connection between Community Education Centers – which operates six halfway houses in New Jersey – and Governor Christie. The company’s senior vice president is William J. Palatucci, Christie’s longtime friend and adviser. Christie’s office called the Times report “misleading,” but the governor also promised increased investigations into the privately run halfway houses. He later line-item vetoed a measure passed by the Legislature that would have required quarterly reports detailing halfway houses’ operations. Christie argued the reports need not be so frequent. The Kintock Group — another company that offers what it describes as “community corrections services” – has also been invited to make an appearance at tomorrow’s hearing. Its President and CEO, Diane DeBarri, is on the Senate committee’s witness list. The Kintock Group operates five centers in New Jersey. Other witnesses expected to testify include Thaddeus Caldwell, a former senior corrections investigator, and Derrick Watkins, the former deputy director of treatment at Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center. The Bo Robinson Center, operated by Community Education Centers, was one of the halfway houses at the center of The Times’ investigative series.

June 26, 2012 The Record
Governor Christie now faces two new chances to approve stronger state oversight of private halfway houses in addition to the promises he made for better monitoring following reports of escapes and abuse. Delaney Hall, a halfway house in Newark. The Legislature passed the two separate measures Monday, including one bill that had been dormant since 2004, giving Christie the power to approve or veto the pair of checks on private corrections contractors. Both the Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would require a full audit of the cost, delivery and procurement of any contract with the state Department of Corrections over $100,000. And both houses also passed a state budget bill that includes two paragraphs that mandate quarterly reports to the Legislature. Any private firm that runs a halfway house detention center would have to detail the number of inmates, number of escapes and steps taken to prevent inmates and parolees from slipping security. Christie promised action to better monitor halfway houses following this month's revelations about high numbers of escapees, some of whom fled and committed further crimes. Offenders deemed non-violent have been routinely assigned to halfway houses in recent years as an alternative to state-run prisons. The New York Times last week detailed reports of failures in halfway-house oversight, as well as allegations of abuse of inmates. Neither of the two reforms proposed by Democrats received a single Republican vote in either the Senate or Assembly. And there was no discussion in the lengthy debate on the budget about the requirement for reports from contractors, language written into the bill by Democrats. "It didn't even get a mention, with everything else going on," said Sen. Linda Greenstein, a Democrat representing Middlesex County, after she and fellow Senate Democrats overrode Republican opposition and approved the budget bill along party lines, 24 to 16. The 2004 proposal by Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, that requires the State Auditor review all private contracts with the Corrections Department, also passed along party lines in both houses. Christie has already signaled he will likely use his veto pen on the massive budget proposal – which includes several items at odds with the governor including a tax-credit plan and not his call for a direct income tax cut. The Governor's Office would not comment Monday on whether Christie would consider a veto of the Van Drew proposal. "I would hope he would not," Van Drew said, insisting he had not planned to push the issue as a way to embarrass the governor. Van Drew said he originally introduced the idea of an audit in 2004, at a time when a number of privatized corrections facilities were opening in his legislative district in Cape May and Cumberland counties. The New York Times reported on June 17 that more than 5,100 inmates had escaped from private facilities since 2005. One of the firms now operating many halfway houses statewide, Community Education Centers, employs a close Christie ally, William Palatucci, as senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs. On the heels of the escapee reports, Van Drew's bill, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, as a co-sponsor, received swift committee hearings last week. Republicans in committee did not directly address the merits of examining corrections contracts, but focused their opposition on why demanding an audit from the independent auditor might slant the process.

July 30, 2011 The Star-Ledger
Essex County officials are coming under heavy criticism over how they handled the bidding process for a facility to house federal immigration detainees, a contract potentially worth tens of millions of dollars. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and immigration advocates are questioning whether the request’s specifications were tailor-made for Education and Health Centers of America, a politically connected firm that submitted the sole bid by Thursday’s deadline. Specifications for the contract, which call for housing at least 450 detainees, include that the facility be located within a two-hour drive of Newark, New York and Philadelphia and within a 10-mile radius of the Essex County Jail on Doremus Avenue in Newark; that the successful bidder have a facility already being used for correctional purposes; and that it be within 20 miles of a major airport. EHCA has contracted with the county to provide rehabilitation and other services for more than a decade. "This smacks of some kind of a backdoor deal," said Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program with the Newark chapter of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker faith-based organization. "It really seems to show the process was not open." Gottlieb said the bid process raised "serious questions," particularly since the contract involves incarceration. "The stakes are high. This isn’t a game," she said. "You’re talking about depriving people’s liberty." In a letter to John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Lautenberg, the vice chairman of a Senate subcommittee that oversees federal funding to ICE, questioned whether the county’s bidding process was "entirely fair, open and transparent." Before any agreement is finalized, Lautenberg wrote, "I am requesting that ICE carefully examine the terms and conditions of such an agreement, as well as the manner in which Essex County intends to satisfy its obligations under the agreement in order to ensure that it fully complies with all applicable law." County officials did not make the bid available, saying it can only be inspected after a formal public-information request is submitted and processed. An attorney for the company, William Harla, said the company’s bid would be judged solely on its merits. "EHCA did not ask for any special position in the process," Harla said in an e-mail. EHCA has reaped about $500 million in county and state Department of Corrections contracts since 1997, according to a state comptroller’s report last month. In January, the county freeholders renewed a $20 million jail-services contract with the company. The bulk of those services are run out of Delaney Hall, a residential center on Doremus Avenue for criminal offenders that prepares them for re-entry into society. Although EHCA is a nonprofit, it sub-contracted its service contracts to a for-profit affiliate, Community Education Centers, according to state officials. Both companies are headed by John Clancy, a former county youth services official who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign of county and state officials, according to state elections records. Besides Clancy, who also served as president of the New Jersey Association for Youth Services and the chairman of the county’s Family Court Commission, William Palatucci, a close friend and former law firm colleague of Gov. Chris Christie, works for Community Education Centers. Clancy and Community Education Centers have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to county and state candidates over the years, including the most recent re-election campaign for Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. Those contributions have come under scrutiny from critics of the county’s ICE contracts. Clancy, though, has said that "a battery of attorneys" have determined his contributions are clearly within legal bounds. In a statement, DiVincenzo said Lautenberg’s suspicions were misplaced. "While most senators would fight for additional revenue to lower taxes and create jobs for their constituents, Senator Frank Lautenberg has channeled his energy into preventing Essex County’s taxpayers from receiving $50 million in revenue," DiVincenzo said. The statement said the county fosters open and competitive pricing "so that we can obtain the most professionally delivered and cost efficient services for our residents."

July 27, 2011 New York Times
Three weeks ago, Essex County, N.J., announced that it was seeking a company to run a 450-bed immigrant detention center, hoping to take advantage of a federally financed initiative to set up such facilities with better supervision and medical care. The county said the contracting process was open to any company. But behind the scenes, it appears that officials have a clear favorite: Community Education Centers, which has a checkered record in immigrant detention but counts one of Gov. Chris Christie’s closest confidants as a senior vice president. The company’s executives are also political backers of the county executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., a prominent ally of Mr. Christie. The county’s bidding rules specified that visitors to the detention center greet detainees “in the gymnasium” — a requirement that seemed to point to an existing facility, Delaney Hall in Newark, operated by Community Education Centers. Bidders were given 23 days to submit applications, an unusually short deadline for a multimillion-dollar contract. Community Education Centers itself seemed to act as if its selection were a done deal. The deadline for bids is Thursday, but the company posted advertisements on its Web site weeks ago to fill five jobs working with immigrant detainees at the facility. And this week, federal immigration officials and Community Education staff members gave tours of Delaney Hall to advocates for immigrants, telling them that it would probably be the new facility. The advocates were not shown other sites. Questioned about the selection process, Essex officials said the bidding was fair and open to any company. A spokesman for Mr. Christie said the governor’s office had no involvement in the contract. Federal and local officials have not indicated the size of the contract for the winning bidder, but it appears the total could amount to $8 million to $10 million annually. Government at all levels has pushed to privatize prisons and detention centers in recent decades, trying to save money and improve services. The federal government, which has been apprehending a growing number of immigrants, plans to use private companies to help overhaul a detention system that includes a patchwork of facilities. But privatized prisons and detention centers have at times became ensnared in scandals over mistreatment of their charges. In fact, Community Education Centers, based in West Caldwell, N.J., was seriously penalized in 2008 under an earlier contract to house immigrants at Delaney Hall. After an immigrant escaped, officials responded by removing the remaining 120 detainees from the company’s supervision and placing them in a public jail. Immigrant detention centers typically house immigrants, both legal and illegal, who are facing deportation because of visa violations or criminal convictions. With a shortage of beds in the Northeast, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced plans last year to house hundreds of detainees in Essex County. Officials said the detainees would have better access to lawyers and consulates, enabling the authorities to curb the transfer of detainees to distant places like Texas. Community Education’s senior vice president is William J. Palatucci, Mr. Christie’s political mentor and former law partner, and one of the state’s well-known Republican strategists. Mr. Palatucci was a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, and recommended to the Bush administration that it nominate Mr. Christie for United States attorney for New Jersey, a job he held from 2002 to 2009. Community Education and its executives are major supporters of Mr. DiVincenzo, one of the most powerful politicians in North Jersey. Community Education employees, including senior executives and several of their family members, have donated a total of $30,600 to Mr. DiVincenzo’s campaigns since 2006, according to disclosure records. Mr. DiVincenzo, the county executive since 2002, is also influential in Trenton. Though he is a Democrat, he has developed a close relationship with Mr. Christie, a Republican, who swore him in for his third term. Mr. DiVincenzo has said he agrees with 95 percent of what the governor is doing, and has broken ranks with his party to support Mr. Christie’s efforts to curb the pay and benefits of public employees. Mr. Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, said, “There is no basis whatsoever to bring the governor into this and doing so sounds like a total stretch.” Essex County’s counsel, James R. Paganelli, said neither Community Education nor any other company had the inside track for the contract. “We have a public bid looking for anybody who thinks they can provide these services,” Mr. Paganelli said. “I hope that this bid is as competitive as we can make it.” Mr. Paganelli said he expected as many as 30 companies to express interest, and he declined to speak about any bidder in particular. A Community Education spokesman, Christopher Greeder, said any claim that the company had “received favored status from Essex County is unfounded.” Mr. Greeder said Delaney Hall was fully accredited and had housed more than 80,000 individuals since its opening in 2000. Asked why the company had advertised for jobs at the detention center before it knew whether it had won the contract, he said: “As a private company, we often advertise for positions in advance of any contract award. We want to be prepared.” He added that there was no connection between campaign contributions given by company executives and government contracts. For their part, federal officials said they were already making plans to send immigrants to Delaney Hall because Essex specifically mentioned it in its proposal to the federal government. They were not aware that the county was considering other facilities, said Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency. Immigrant advocates called the contracting process severely flawed. Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee, said, “The idea that a company can advertise a job before they have the contract is offensive, because the stakes are so high.” Although the details are still being made final, Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to assign 800 immigrants to the Essex jail, which currently holds about 500, and plans to place an additional 450 detainees in Delaney Hall, which is nearby, Ms. Christensen said. To solicit bids, Essex County advertised in The Star-Ledger of Newark and posted the requirements on a county Web site, following standard procedure, according to Mr. Paganelli, the county counsel. He said county officials did not actively solicit companies to bid. By comparison, the New York State Office of General Services said that when the state issued contracts for specialized services, it advertised in multiple publications, posted the requirements online and contacted competing firms that perform similar services.

June 16, 2011 NJ 101.5
State Comptroller Matt Boxer is questioning the State Department of Corrections (DOC) about the state's largest halfway house provider, Education and Health Centers of America, Inc. (EHCA), because of its subcontracting arrangement with a for-profit company, Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC). Under state law, only non-profits can provide halfway house services. Boxer says EHCA pays CEC the entire contracted per diem rates. Of $400 million the state has paid EHCA since 1997, EHCA has paid CEC approximately $390 million to provide "all the services" under EHCA's public contracts, including the "operation, support services management and maintenance" of the facilities. "One of the issues that we found is that there are questions about the eligibility of one of those halfway houses to be a part of this program," explains Boxer. "We sent a letter to the Department of Corrections suggesting that on this issue they seek formal legal advice from the (State) Attorney General's Office and they've agreed to do that." Bill Palatucci is one of Governor Chris Christie's closest allies. He's a senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs at CEC and the director of development at EHCA. He says CEC has had no new contracts since 1998. "We're still operating under the same agreement that was approved by Attorney General back then, so we're a bit puzzled by the report," says Palatucci. "We'll take a look and talk to the Department of Corrections about it."

July 8, 2010 The Star-Ledger
In a move certain to only increase speculation about Gov. Chris Christie’s political future beyond New Jersey, the Republican State Committee tonight elected Bill Palatucci, a close Christie friend, advisor and former law partner, as the state’s new male representative on the Republican National Committee. Palatucci, 52, replaces David Norcross, a former Republican State Committee chairman and 1976 U.S. Senate candidate who was elected committeeman in 1992. “I think in a small way I can just be the eyes and ears, not only for (Christie) but for the state party. Secondly, it’s nice to be able to be proud for New Jersey again and help export the ideas that are proving so successful right now in New Jersey down to the national scene,” said Palatucci. Palatucci denied speculation that Norcross, whose term does not end until 2012, was pressured to resign by Christie to make way for a close ally. “I think that’s unfair to David. David has been very clear that he was in his last term and he was always looking for the right time to step aside,” he said. Twenty-three of the state’s 42 Republican committee members showed up at the meeting at the Princeton Hyatt to vote for Palatucci by affirmation. Nobody else ran for the position and Norcross did not attend the meeting. Amanda Brown/The Star-LedgerDavid Norcross, in this 2004 file photo. Palatucci is senior vice president and general counsel for Community Education Centers in West Caldwell, which operates halfway houses for the reintegration of former prison inmates.

June 21, 2010 The Daily Journal
A close friend, political contributor and adviser to Gov. Chris Christie is a top-ranking employee of Community Education Centers Inc., the largest company providing the state with treatment centers for former inmates. Christie has said the state is in dire financial straits and has made massive cuts in his proposed fiscal 2011 budget, but funding for the treatment centers -- traditionally known as halfway houses -- is set to increase $3.1 million. It's one of the rare programs to receive additional funding under Christie. The final treatment center budget under the state Department of Corrections will be $64.6 million, if the Legislature approves the budget. Deborah Howlett, executive director of New Jersey Policy Perspective and a former official in Gov. Jon S. Corzine's administration, said, "I've heard Gov. Christie say many times not to take a cup of coffee from someone. With other social services programs being cut to the bone, a program that could benefit a friend is increased. Why?" *Longtime Christie adviser William J. Palatucci, a senior vice president and general counsel for Community Education Centers in West Caldwell, told Gannett New Jersey he's "deregistered as a lobbyist" and "will not lobby in New Jersey on behalf of CEC."* *Palatucci's relationship with Christie goes back at least to the 1990s. Palatucci helped run Christie's gubernatorial campaign last year and was co-chair of the governor's inaugural committee. Palatucci personally has contributed $26,650 to the GOP since 1985.* CEC has contributed a total of$372,350 to both parties during that time, mostly to Democrats, and its chairman, John J. Clancy, has contributed $138,525, mostly to Democrats. Michael Drewniak, press secretary for the governor, said: "Bill Palatucci has been involved with Mr. Clancy's company for a very long time. Mr. Clancy's bids will be judged on their merits, and that's the only consideration that is involved. Any suggestion of outside influence is not based on the facts." According to Corrections Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan, his department currently contracts for a total of 3,029 beds in residential treatment programs. During the course of a typical year, anywhere from8,500 to8,800 inmates go through treatment facilities as a way to help them re-enter society, according to the DOC. Lanigan said Friday that legislation passed last year mandated the Department of Corrections must maintain 100 percent occupancy in the beds under contract. Previously, 95 percent occupancy was required. That change in the law accounts for the proposed $3.1 million budget increase, he said. The state is in the process of awarding new contracts for the treatment programs. The final decision, expected June 30, will be made by Lanigan, following a review both by an evaluation committee and state budget officials who examine the finances of each company submitting bids, DOC spokesman Matt Schuman said. Eight vendors currently have contracts with the DOC. CEC's relationship with the state is complex. CEC, a for-profit company, "does not hold any state contracts," company spokesman Christopher Greeder said. But CEC provides services for a nonprofit, Wall-based company called Education and Health Centers of America. "They hold the contracts," Greeder said. Palatucci was listed as a paid director of development for Education and Health Centers, while Clancy, the CEO and chairman of CEC, was listed as the paid president, according to the nonprofit's 2009 IRS tax report. Under pay-to-play laws, a for-profit business receiving $50,000 or more through agreements or contracts with New Jersey public entities is required to file annual disclosures of its contributions with the election commission, according to the Department of Treasury. Pay-to-play disclosure laws were passed in recent years to prevent undue influence, or the appearance of undue influence, by political contributors in the state's multibillion-dollar contracting process. However, because the nonprofit Education and Health Centers is awarded the contracts with the state, the for-profit CEC -- which provides the bulk of services for the Education and Health Centers contracts -- is not required to file pay-to-play disclosures with the commission. Nonprofits, and any political contributions by its officers, were made exempt from the 2005 pay-to-play reporting laws in 2008. Palatucci said he spoke with Christie after he was elected and told him he would no longer lobby on behalf of CEC in New Jersey. "The governor accepted this," he said. Lanigan said Palatucci's relationship with the governor "no way impacts the process. My job is to keep up a firewall, to make sure the process has not been tainted." In the current contract Education and Health Centers has with the Department of Corrections, CEC provides 1,687 beds -- 1,226 in assessment centers and 461 in treatment programs, Lanigan said. Most of CEC's New Jersey beds are in Newark and Trenton. The rate charged the department is $62 per inmate per day in a treatment program and between $70 and $75 in an assessment center, he added. An assessment center is a facility an offender goes to after being released from prison. That inmate then will be placed in a treatment center for substance, behavioral or other problems. The department spent $61.5 million this budget year and plans to spend $64.6 million in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, according to the state budget. Joseph Marbach, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Seton Hall University, says the state owes the public more of an explanation. "Why is this portion of the budget going up when so many things are being slashed?" Marbach said. "What's the underlying reason? Anything that might benefit Mr. Christie's friend, Mr. Palatucci? Somebody's going to benefit from government, one way or another. The governor has been very vocal in criticizing these kinds of relationships. For consistency's sake, you'd think Mr. Palatucci would take a leave of absence or recuse himself while Mr. Christie is in office." Palatucci said he is "an advocate for alternatives to incarceration, and none of that requires me to lobby for CEC. ... I told the governor in January, 'I'm not going to talk to you about my company.'"

New Jersey State Prison
Trenton, New Jersey
Correctional Medical Services

October 30, 2008 The Times of Trenton News
Two workers at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton were indicted on charges related to smuggling cell phones to inmates. In an indictment that was handed up Monday, Darlene R. Sexton, 44, of Trenton was charged with five counts of official misconduct and two counts of unlawful use of a cell phone in a correctional facility, said Casey DeBlasio, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor. State Corrections Officer Lisa Whittaker, 32, of Trenton was indicted on two counts of official misconduct and one count of hindering apprehension, DeBlasio said. Whittaker allegedly gave investigators from the Department of Corrections false information during their investigation of Sexton. It's the first indictment of a corrections worker by Mercer County authorities for cell phone smuggling, DeBlasio said, although in mates and others have been indicted on charges of smuggling cell phones at other correctional facilities. Last year the Department of Corrections fired 52 prison officers, some of them for smuggling contra band into the prisons. Sexton, a registered nurse employed by New Jersey State Prison Correctional Medical Services, was allegedly involved in an "unduly familiar relationship" with Arlington King, an inmate, officials said. Sexton allegedly committed misconduct by bringing cell phones to King and Craig Reid, another in mate, while they were incarcerated between Jan. 8 and Nov. 17, 2007, DeBlasio said. Officials at the St. Louis-based company, which no longer has a contract with New Jersey to provide medical services for the prison, could not be reached for comment late yesterday. Sexton, however, "maintains her innocence," said her defense lawyer Robin Lord. "She's not a public official so I don't know where they're going with that charge. She is employed by a private company. I'm going to file a motion to have the indictment dismissed." Sexton was charged with providing "contraband" to several in mates incarcerated at the prison.

November 18, 2004 Daily Record
Former Chester resident Craig Szemple, who is serving three life terms for murdering three people, will be allowed to continue his lawsuit against a state prison medical group he claims neglected to give him physical therapy he needed immediately after elbow and wrist surgery, a state appeals court has ruled.
As a New Jersey State Prison inmate, Szemple underwent two surgeries related to carpal tunnel syndrome on Nov. 7, 1996, on his right wrist and elbow. The surgeon ordered physical therapy to begin "ASAP" but Correctional Medical Services, the conglomerate with the contract to administer health services to some 26,000 state prisoners, did not arrange for Szemple to have a physical therapy evaluation until March 17, 1997. Acting as his own lawyer, Szemple in November 1998 sued Correctional Medical Services and the state Department of Corrections, alleging that he was given substandard care and his wrist and elbow worsened as a result of not receiving immediate physical therapy. The medical group tried unsuccessfully several times to get Szemple's lawsuit dismissed. Its lawyers finally succeeded in 2003, when a judge in Mercer County dismissed the lawsuit, mainly on grounds that a chiropractor whom Szemple wanted to use to prove his case was not qualified to do so. The appeals court, in its opinion released Wednesday, reinstated Correctional Medical Services as a defendant in the lawsuit, saying that the chiropractor is qualified to give his opinion about the treatment Szemple received.

Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant
Oyster Creek, New Jersey
Wackenhut
April 17, 2003
Two security guards at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant were removed from their posts a day after an employee found them sleeping on the job, company officials said.     The guards, who were placed on administrative leave by their private employer, were stationed at a second checkpoint outside the plant at 4:50 a.m. Monday when they were found sleeping by an employee coming to work.  This follows on the heels of two other problems reported recently: A local news station aired footage of someone driving around the plant's parking lot unchallenged by security, and warning sirens were found to be inoperative.  "First it was the van, then it was the sirens, now this. What's next?" Lacey resident Janet Wickham said. "It's like Homer Simpson is running the plant or something."  The guards -- whose names were not made public -- were employees of Wackenhut, a Florida-based security firm. Each had been with the company for about a year: one was a former member of the military, the other a former police officer, said John Jasinski, director of nuclear operations for Wackenhut.  (Asbury Park Press)

Passaic County Jail
Passaic County, New Jersey
Aramark

February 19, 2006 Herald News
Passaic County Jail inmate prayers -- and stomach rumblings -- have been heard. Sheriff Jerry Speziale is firing the jail's meal provider, Aramark, and inmates will take charge of the kitchen come May, Speziale spokesman Bill Maer said Friday. "We can do it as well as them at this point," he said. The company's $1.7 million annual contract is being terminated because of poor "quality, service, attentiveness," said Maer. Jail officials haven't estimated how much they will save by cooking in-house, and the financial aspect is secondary, said Maer. Inmates said the food is cold, measly in portion size, not varied enough and served on dirty trays, forcing some to pay as much as $200 a month on pre-packaged food from the jail's commissary. The Philadelphia-based vendor was the only bidder for the contract and company executives have since 2002 contributed at least $3,700 to Speziale's campaign, according to election reports. Speziale had advised the company twice over the past year to step up food quality and professionalism or lose the contract. Earlier this month, an Aramark employee at the jail was charged with selling marijuana to inmates. The federal government began an audit -- its second within four years -- into possible mistreatment of detainees and substandard jail conditions at Passaic. The audit is due for release by April. Maer said the firing of Aramark is unrelated to the audit. Three jail inmates said Friday they believed Speziale's decision is designed to appease a growing chorus of inmate complaints about unacceptable jail conditions, in his quest to secure more federal and state inmates in 2006. Housing those inmates provided $20.9 million to the department last year.

February 5, 2006 NorthJersey.com
A food service employee at the Passaic County Jail was arrested Saturday and charged with smuggling marijuana to inmates. Three weeks ago, an anonymous source tipped jail investigators that Roody Preval, 18, of Spring Valley, N.Y., could be selling marijuana to jail inmates, according to Bill Maer, a spokesman for the Passaic County Sheriff's Department. Employed by Aramark Food Services, Preval had been working as a warehouse supervisor at the Passaic County Jail on weekends since July 15. Investigators searched Preval when he reported to work at 12:10 p.m. Saturday, and they found three grams of marijuana hidden in a Newport 100 cigarette box. Preval was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana 1,000 feet from a school, and conspiracy to provide an inmate with contraband knowing that the contraband was illegal.

January 20, 2006 Herald News
Under pressure from inmates complaining about the quality of jail cuisine, Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale may terminate a $1.7 million food service contract with facility's current provider, Philadelphia-based Aramark. "The sheriff is holding Aramark's feet to the fire regarding the food quality issue," Bill Maer, spokesman for the Passaic County Sheriff's Department, said Thursday. Speziale's threat this week issued to Aramark is his second - last June he changed the company's contract from annual to month-to-month and told Aramark officials the firm needed to improve food quality and increase the menu variety, Maer said. Speziale's promise to re-evaluate Aramark's competency came after a 2 p.m. meeting on Wednesday with a group of about seven U.S. Marshals Service inmates over grievances, which included the poor quality of the food served at the county, Maer said. Much of the changes demanded from the food service company could be traced to a long-simmering controversy over the poor quality of the meals being served at the county jail. A letter dated Jan. 7 from an anonymous group of U.S. Marshals Service inmates said the meals are cold and too cheap to be nutritious.

April 2, 2005 Herald News
The Passaic County Jail may drop its $1.4 million-a-year contract with the food vendor Aramark. "At this point, the department is considering making alterations or terminating the contract," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Bill Maer. "Although the department feels that the vendor has been deficient in many areas, at this point a final decision has not been made." "Preliminarily, yes, (jail officials) have said that we could do it cheaper and better," said County Administrator Anthony DeNova.

Somerset County School Board
Bernards, New Jersey
Aramark

February 2, 2010 AAP.com
Four Shore area men have been arrested in an alleged scheme to artificially inflate bills for school maintenance work that cost taxpayers in Bernards, Somerset County, at least $2.1 million over a five-year period. Appearing in court here Tuesday were Robert E. Titus Jr., 52, of Jackson; John Paris, 61, of Middletown's Belford section; Edward Beach, 52, of Toms River and Gabriel Caponetto, 50, of Howell. Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest announced the arrests during a news briefing Tuesday morning in his Somerville office, and said at least two state agencies will review the case. The overbillings took place between January 2003 and October 2008, and part of the proceeds supported Titus' gambling habit, according to Forrest. "So far, we've been able to prove inflated invoices totaling $2.1 million," said Forrest, who added the amount lost by the Bernards district probably never will be known, since the exact price of each job, bid at competitive levels during those years, never was explored through the bidding process. The scheme was uncovered during a yearlong investigation. According to Forrest, Titus, as an employee of the district's facilities-management vendor, Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., submitted inflated bills for various projects performed by Paris' construction firm and subcontractors. Aramark, a national corporation that provides similar services to school districts throughout the country, was unaware of the overbilling and is not charged in the case. Aramark has since reimbursed the school district for what is believed to be the entire amount of the thefts, according to Forrest. Aramark also provides food-service and janitorial work for the district, but the overbilling concerns mostly maintenance projects, noted Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Chirachilla. "Various projects, things like door replacement, a boiler, storm-drain replacements," he said. Aramark pays it back -- Forrest said the investigation began in December 2008, after the Prosecutor's Office was approached by Aramark and the Bernards school district with word of a long-term theft against the district by Titus, an Aramark employee. Titus had been the company's onsite manager in the district since 1999, a position that enabled him to hire contractors to complete various construction projects without the district going through the public bidding process. Since 2003, Titus allegedly used the same contractor — Paris — for all projects, repairs and maintenance he oversaw. At times, Paris also hired subcontractors, none of whom is charged in the scheme. "Defendant Paris then submitted invoices to Titus that would be processed by Aramark and ultimately submitted to the school district for payment," Forrest said. "However, unbeknownst to Aramark, the invoices had been inflated by Titus to allow him to receive monies to which he was not entitled," the prosecutor said. The difference between the actual and inflated cost was then given to Titus as a kickback by Paris as a payment for providing Paris with a steady flow of work in the district, according to Forrest. The defendants tried to cover up the thefts by having Paris deposit the inflated checks into his business account. The checks then either were made payable to cash and taken to Caponetto, who would add or substitute his company's name on the payee line, endorse the checks, cash them and send the money back to Titus, again through a third party. Caponetto was given $100 for each check he cashed. Checks also were written by Paris with the payee line left blank and taken to a check-cashing store, Check Cashing Station in Hazlet, where Beach allegedly entered the check-cashing client database, chose an existing name at random and entered it on the payee line for Paris. Beach then received a portion of the check-cashing fee that was normally charged. Discrepancies spotted -- Forrest said the scheme was uncovered in July 2008, when newly appointed Bernards School District Business Administrator Nick Markarian began noticing inconsistencies between invoices submitted by Titus and the actual work performed. After Titus was confronted by Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger, he admitted "doctoring" an invoice, apologized, cleaned out his office and left the district, according to Forrest. Aramark, Titus' employer, then launched its own investigation, Forrest stated, turning over an internal audit to the Prosecutor's Office that revealed approximately $2.1 million in thefts over the five-plus years. Titus and Paris face charges of money laundering, theft by deception and conspiracy, while Beach faces money-laundering and conspiracy charges, as well as charges of forgery and uttering forged instruments. Caponetto is charged only with money laundering.

South Woods State Prison
Bridgeton, New Jersey
Correctional Medical Services

November 23, 2005 Today's Sunbeam
Less than a month after a Southern State Corrections Facility employee was sentenced here in Superior Court for having sex with inmates, a staff member at South Woods State Prison has been accused of similar behavior. Dawn Brown, a nurse aide at the 1,500-inmate South Woods prison in Bridgeton, was picked up by state Department of Corrections Special Investigations officers Friday and taken to Cumberland County Jail on charges she had consensual sex with at least one male inmate at South Woods. "This is something that's completely unacceptable," said state DOC spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer. "It was consensual in the fact that no one was raped. When you have somebody in a supervisory position this sometimes happens." Brown, who has been charged with sexual assault and official misconduct, was hired by Correctional Medical Services in May 2004. CMS provides medical services at South Woods State Prison and other state facilities throughout New Jersey.

Trenton School Board
Trenton, New Jersey
Aramark

June 30, 2010 Star Ledger
Aramark defended its operation of the school district's cafeterias this week as parents claimed the company gave their children poor quality food and demanded its contract not be renewed. The parents who complained to the school board during its meeting Monday included Waldemar Ronquillo, who distributed copies of a photo he said he took of his son's cafeteria tray during a recent lunch at Woodrow Wilson School. The Styrofoam tray in the picture contained a serving of macaroni and cheese, a piece of broccoli and an unidentified third dish. Two other compartments on the tray were empty. "Tell me if you guys want to eat that lunch," Ronquillo, the school's PTO president, said to the board members. "My kids come home hungry because they don't eat in school. They throw the food away." "Please, bring some better food for the kids," he said. Other city residents, including Councilman Manuel Segura, renewed their protests against the privatization of school services. Aramark took over the food service last fall, and the district is considering hiring a private security company to replace its school guards. "I went to one school where I saw the kids throwing the food in the garbage," Segura said. "Privatizing hasn't worked. Hold them accountable, or bring someone else who really cares." The board also heard from Aramark's regional manager, Alicia Kent, who gave a presentation describing the company's work since it was hired to help eliminate the district's $3 million annual food service deficit. Total costs have fallen from $6.8 million last year to $3.7 million this year, according to her presentation. Aramark rehired 117 former district cafeteria workers at lower pay, as well as a few new workers, cutting labor costs from $3.7 million to $2.3 million. It spent $1.7 million less on food, in part by using free government commodities. The company pushed to enroll more students in the free- and reduced-price lunch program, and began providing free breakfasts to all students last November, she said.

Union County Jail
Union County, New Jersey
Aramark

July 13, 2010 News-Record
Union County police officers arrested an Elizabeth woman on July 6 following an investigation into tobacco smuggling at the Union County Jail, officials said. The month-long investigation resulted in the apprehension and arrest of Shakiedah Payne, 30, an employee of Aramark, the company that provides food service at the jail. Authorities said Payne admitted to smuggling contraband in the form of tobacco products into the jail. She was released pending a court appearance.