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Assembly Panel to Hold Monday Hearing into Troubling Lack of Oversight at New Jersey Halfway Houses
(TRENTON) - Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Chair Charles Mainor on Monday announced that his committee will hold a hearing next Monday to investigate the troubling lack of oversight at New Jersey's halfway houses, which has been detailed in numerous recent news reports.
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will meet on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. in Committee Room 11 on the 4th Floor of the State House Annex in Trenton. The hearing will focus on the status of halfway houses operating under the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Audio of the hearing will be streamed at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp.
"This is a serious matter that deserves close scrutiny, especially in light of Gov. Christie's indefensible line-item vetoes of stricter halfway house oversight," said Mainor (D-Hudson). "The longer we allow this system to continue as-is unchecked, the more we jeopardize the safety and well being of the public at large. As we've seen, it's had tragic results already."
Reports on New Jersey's halfway house system first emerged in mid-June when The New York Times ran an in-depth story detailing rampant violence, gang activity, drug use, sexual assault and the escape of inmates, some of whom went on to commit violent crimes, including murder charges, while at large. Mainor on June 18 announced his intention to hold hearings.
The Legislature inserted language in this year's budget that would have required the state Department of Corrections to boost oversight and reporting on halfway houses, a move that was vetoed by Gov. Christie days later.
"We hope that all relevant stakeholders will cooperate with the hearing so that we can gain a better understanding of the conditions at these facilities, how they're operated and what needs to be done to improve them so that everyone's safety - the community, staff and inmates - is protected," Mainor said. "When escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse are widespread at these facilities and yet Gov. Christie still opposes improved oversight, something is terribly wrong and unacceptable."
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