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New Jersey County announces fourth prison director this year in plans to close the facility

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Cumberland County announced on Tuesday that it was the fourth prison manager this year and the second last month.

Eugene Coldwell II took over as a temporary lookout at Cumberland County Prison on Wednesday. Coldwell, the administrator of the adjacent Gloucester County Prison System, will replace Stanley Field, the county’s chief information security officer and former state police captain who became interim prison operator on September 20. increase. Coldwell was hired under a 6-month shared services contract. With Gloucester County with the option to update.

The prison director’s revolving door began in January when Warden Richard Smith resigned and Charles Warren replaced him. Warren resigned on September 19, the day before a federal court hearing on unsanitary conditions in prison and failure to comply with the COVID-19 protocol in court orders. That monitoring continues. The proceedings were the result of a settlement in a civil proceeding from a detainee at the facility.

Meanwhile, the State Supreme Court last month upheld a lower court ruling allowing the county to close prisons and transfer detainees to nearby county prisons.

The High Court dismissed a request from the state office of a public defender to consider decisions from two lower courts allowing the county to close prisons. At the end of last year, lawyers filed a legal complaint alleging that the closure would put an undue burden on lawyers to meet with detainees who needed them.

In a statement Tuesday, Cumberland County Commission Chairman Joseph Delera said Warden Cold to implement plans for Cumberland County to detain detainees in underutilized correctional facilities in the surrounding counties. Wells’ experience and expertise was invaluable. Gloucester County is a pioneer in shared correction services, and Warden Coldwell has demonstrated that detainees can be safely and cost-effectively accommodated in facilities outside the county.

According to a statement, Gloucester County closed its county prison in 2013 and has since detained detainees in correctional facilities in other counties.

Cumberland County had previously secured a $ 65 million bond loan to build a new prison to replace Bridgeton’s dilapidated structure. However, county officials said the number of detainees had dropped dramatically due to the abolition of state bail from Governor Phil Murphy and the release of low-level criminals in last year’s COVID-19 emergency order. .. As a result, they decided to abandon the new prison plan in the summer of 2020, even after spending $ 13 million on site planning and concrete foundations.

Officials said the move would save them more than $ 8 million a year.

The closure will eliminate up to 115 full-time county positions, most of them prison officers. Their union also sued the county over the plan, but the complaint was dismissed by a higher court.

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You can contact Bill Duhart at bduhart @ njadvancemedia.com.

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