Senate Halfway House Testimony Reveals The Horrors

Today’s Star-Ledger article on the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee Hearing on halfway houses reported on the early segment of this event which in total went from 2:00 PM to about 6:00 PM. The session began with a “politically correct” but on-point exposition of shortcomings presented by Comptroller Boxer. The early segment then moved into a full-throated defense by Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan and Community Education Centers founder John Clancy. It was not until late in the afternoon when counseling, corrections, and foundation individuals testified about the true depth of the problem.

The Star-Ledger reported: Sen. Barbara Buono asked Clancy how she can reconcile his testimony, which provided glowing reports about operations at CEC, with the newspaper expose, the comptroller’s report and a report by the State Commission on Investigation. “Are they all fiction?” she asked. Personally I don’t think Clancy and Lanigan fooled the legislators.

It was in the unreported later part of the day when experts testified about lack of oversight and security, large numbers of inmates failing drug tests, lack of real programs, the revolving door of inmates going back and forth between prison or jail and halfway houses, inmates’ ease in getting contraband, low staff salary levels, secrecy maintained by the sites, lack of true cost information, and more. They made suggestions including performance contracting (reaching outcomes as a basis for payment), incentives to reduce escapes including third party review, opening up bidding to allow more competitors, and obtaining more of the available federal grant matching funds.

At the end Chair Senator Robert Gordon summarized some possible solutions: develop legislative tightening of contract procurement, increase staffing, improve staff training, assure that pre-adjudicated inmates not be sent to halfway houses, have uniformed officers in sites, and use performance contracting. For another take on yesterday’s hearing, read today’s N Y Times article.

On Monday at 10:30 AM the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will hold its own hearing. Members will have the benefit of having learned what was disclosed during the Senate hearing and being able to pursue issues further.    

Comments (2)

  1. firstamend07

    “Members will have the benefit of having learned what was disclosed ”

    How True! But will these Legislators even know what questions to ask?

    Maybe I can help.

    Here is what I will ask.

    1. Please show the documents that prove that under this NJDOC Commissioner Halfway Houses are EACH being visited 6 times a quarter as was stated.

    2.The Commisioner needs to provide a current number of how many people work as  Contract Administrators.He said he has enough people,how many does he have ?

    3. Why are Halfway Houses,which are designed to be reentry vehicles, being used as overflow jails for the county jail system,therefore mixing inmates who want help with those who have not even been sentenced,is this part of the contract?

    4. Why does the NJDOC have a  “special arrangement” pertaining to contract procurement? Why do they not follow State Treasury rules for RFP’s?

    5.Why did the NJDOC Commissioner disband a special security investigative unit that handled Halfway House issues?

    6.Why has no one addresed the ” dummy company ” arrangement that CEC has created to skirt the law that says only non-profits can attain Halfway House contracts?

    7.On June 18 Governor Christie ordered his Corrections Commissioner to ” step up” investigations of Halfway Houses. On Monda yit will be 36 days since that order. The NJDOC Commissioner must detail what new ” stepped up” procedures he has enacted.



  2. firstamend07

    During his testimony William Clancy stated that he would be in favor of government employees, instead of ” reporters sitting in some room” going out and investigating his properties.

    I would ask Mr. Clancy to use his influence in getting Governor Christie to sign S 927 which does just what he asks!

    S927 empowers the State to audit and report back to the Legislature on all NJDOC privatization contracts.



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