The New York Times this week is publishing a three-part article series with a horrific inside view of NJ’s hafway houses, most of which are operated by Community Education Centers (CEC). There is extensive documentation of drugs, gangs and sexual abuse within the facilities, lack of qualified educators and counselors, inmates just walking out and committing awful crimes, a tangled web of CEC’s donations to politicians, collusion with local officials to receive grants, and concerns raised by State Comptroller Boxer about how CEC account for funds provided by the State.
Governor Christie today issued the following press release:
“We have increased monitoring of halfway houses with enhanced site visits, fines for noncompliance and a new inspection monitoring system… I am calling on the Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan to immediately step up inspections of all halfway houses and report any violations and recommendations for changes to the deputy chief of staff for policy.”
Typically Christie provides us with a quick, short, meaningless response to serious allegations. Such is weak-hearted effort to call for reform, let the issue die down, and then cover it with a rug. Such has been the experience in the past.
As some Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials as well as Governor Christie accept sizable campaign money from CEC, it is time for an independent investigation. There is too much that is rotten within CEC. It greases its way to lucrative contracts, pays a few top executuves lavishly, mistreats its inmates, endangers the public, and hides its accounting of government funds with opaque non-transparency.
Enough is enough. It is time for detectives, forensic accountants, grant mangement specialists, lawyers, correction specialists, “pay-to-play” experts, and ethicists to remove the veil, unearth the wrong-doing, and make recommendations for changes.