Contract could provide an additional $800,000 to County
Linden, NJ-The County of Union has agreed to enter into a contract with the County of Bergen to provide up to 20 secure detention beds for its juvenile detention population.
The contract could generate $800,000 in annual revenues to County coffers and will run from November 1, 2010 thru October 31, 2011. The agreement is pending formal approval by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission.
“This agreement with Bergen County allows us to reduce the annual detention budget which costs approximately $6 million a year,” said Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan.
No new costs will be incurred by the county and no additional staffing will be needed as a result of the additional juveniles. All transportation including court appearances to and from Bergen County will be provided by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department.
In March 2008, Union County replaced its thirty-four bed detention facility in Elizabeth with a new state of the art 76 –bed facility in Linden. While the new facility is first and foremost a secure detention center, its overarching theme is to promote the concept of normative justice where secure detention is viewed as an opportunity to change behavior in a way that will benefit the offender, family and the community at-large.
During the 24 month construction period leading up to the March 2008 opening, Union County was also chosen by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the State of New Jersey to become a Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) site. This distinction, along with the County’s own juvenile detention expediting team that provides a case plan and follow up for every juvenile in the County’s system, has brought a systemic change to our Family court system. These changes helped create alternatives to detention through support and use of community based programs and developed partnerships with child welfare agencies that resulted in a dramatic decrease in the average daily detention census at the detention center.
In June of 2009, the county entered into a contract with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to provide 15 beds for undocumented juveniles needing secure placement pending the disposition of their resident status in Newark federal court. The children held in the detention center under this agreement have been involved in the juvenile justice system and have left their country of origin for multiple reasons such as to rejoin family members already in the U.S., to escape abusive family relationships, fleeing political or religious persecution or to find work to support their families in their country of origin. This agreement was the first of its type in the tri-state area, and one of only five such arrangements in the nation. To date, that contract has generated over $1.2 million in budget offsets.