There’s an age-old question asked of politicians that rarely generates a solid answer. It’s in response to how they’ll meet their campaign promise of lowering taxes or keeping them stable. And it is a simple question: How are you going to do this?
In Essex County, last week, we got an answer to the question when County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. announced the Essex County Correctional Facility would become home to most inmates who would otherwise have been housed at the Union County Jail.
Essex will generate $11+ million a year by accepting around 300 inmates from Union County after they’re processed following arrests.
In the last decade, the Union County Jail has seen a sharp decline in its inmate population, from an average-daily high of 1,200 or so inmates to around 300 now. Some of this is attributable to a drop in crime; it is also because of bail reform, which has also allowed the jail to see far fewer inmates accused of petit crimes.
So the need to operate a jail in Union County isn’t as necessary as it once was and because of the forward-thinking of the two counties, this agreement was made possible.
Fortunately, Essex County will see a significant increase in revenue, a rarity these days.
Perhaps the only downfall to this deal is that there are employees at the Union County facility who may lose jobs. However, not all is lost. It’s not completely closing, so it will still need to be staffed for initial processing before inmates are moved to Essex County facility in Newark.
And, DiVincenzo says, current employees, including corrections officers, will be able to interview for similar jobs in his county. So while there is a slight downside to the deal, not all is completely lost.
We commend all involved in making this deal happen. Most come out winners with it. And perhaps the biggest winners of them all, for a change, are the taxpayers.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.