Public Info

Union County Completes Transfer of Correctional Operations to Essex County

New operation is expected to save Union County more than $103 million over five years while ensuring continued care of incarcerated persons.

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to announce the completion of an agreement with Essex County, under which incarcerated persons from Union County will be housed at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. The transition of operations was completed at 11:59 p.m. on June 30, 2021. Union County expects to save more than $103 million over five years as a result of the transition.

The Union County Correctional Facility in Elizabeth will continue to operate as an intake hub and temporary detention facility. Shuttle buses are available to transport those wishing to visit persons incarcerated at the Essex County facility.

“The agreement with Essex County will result in a significant savings to Union County, and it reflects trends in criminal justice that support fairness and social stability,” said Union County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “I would like to thank all those involved for ensuring that the transition progressed smoothly and on schedule.”

“Because the number of persons incarcerated at the Union County jail has decreased dramatically in recent years, the new operation will result in a substantially more efficient use of public funds,” said Union County Manager Edward T. Oatman. “We have also worked diligently to minimize disruption to staff as they transition to new employment.”

Due to social trends and public policies that have reduced the number of incarcerated persons in Union County and New Jersey, the number of individuals housed at the Union County jail fell nearly 67 percent over the past ten years, from a population of more than 1,000 down to 345 at the beginning of 2021. In combination with other factors, the result has been a sharp increase in the cost-per-inmate of housing prisoners at the facility.

Prior to the transition, a total of 243 persons were employed at the jail including Corrections Officers and civilian personnel. Approximately 53 Corrections Officers and civilians remain employed at the Union County Jail for its hub operations, which will operate 365 days a year.

The five-year memorandum of agreement the County of Union has approved with Essex County to provide jail services has an option for renewal. In addition, the Union County Department of Corrections will become a division of the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

The agreement with Essex County is part of the Commissioner Board’s ongoing efforts to respond to significant changes in the criminal justice system, resulting in a more effective use of public funds.

In 2019, Union County also closed its Juvenile Detention Center, saving $24.6 million a year, sending its detainees to the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center in Newark.


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