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August 26, 2008

Dickensian complaint over NJ prison conditions

A helpful reader alerted me to this news of a new lawsuit concerning New Jersey's prison conditions, which indirectly touches on many economic issues that surround prison nation.  Here are excerpts the article:

Conditions out of Charles Dickens' novel beset the 1,800 inmates at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, according to a recent class action lawsuit filed by seven inmates. Indeed, Dickens, who visited the facility in 1842, decried the conditions at the jail, the suit noted.  Sections of the current prison date to the 1860s....

The suit claims that actions of corrections officers, who are in a dispute with the DOC over salary cuts and overtime, exacerbate the problems.  Because of pay cuts, officers have an incentive to make additional money by smuggling in contraband, the suit says.

The suit alleges that officers find bogus reasons to get more overtime, including an August 2006 shakedown where guards claimed to have recovered a handgun at the prison. The suit accuses the officers of smuggling in the gun themselves as a pretext for a three-week search that led to millions in overtime pay....

Gerald Albrecht, 52, a plaintiff who is serving 25 years to life for robbery, called on Corzine to appoint an independent commission to investigate rather than allowing the DOC to investigate itself.

The lawsuit also charges that educational programs and religious programs have been cut, citing a 2006 memo by administrator Michelle Ricci that suspended 36 faith-based activities and told chaplains to reduce their time with inmates by half.

August 26, 2008 at 05:30 PM | Permalink


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