2013 REPORT FROM THE PADOC CONFIRMS THAT HALFWAY HOUSES ARE AN ABJECT FAILURE
A recent report from the PA DOC confirmed what correction officers knew all along, halfway houses are not working. Last week, the PA DOC published a 46 page report which addressed the recidivism rate in Pennsylvania. Click here to view the report.
What is RECIDIVISM:
Recidivism is simply a repeat offender. The PADOC defines a recidivist as an inmate who, after release from prison, commits a new offense or violates parole, resulting in an arrest, incarceration or both. The report tracked repeat offenders and calculated the rate using a number of criteria. This article addresses the section of the report that pertains to repeat offenders that were released directly back into society as opposed to the number of repeat offenders that were release from halfway houses back into society. The report found that the recidivism rate was higher among inmates release from halfway houses.
In an article published by the New York Times on March 24, 2013:
Pennsylvania Study Finds Halfway Houses Don’t Reduce Recidivism
The federal government and states across the country have spent billions of dollars in recent years on sprawling, privately run halfway houses, which are supposed to save money and rehabilitate inmates more effectively than prisons do.
But now, a groundbreaking study by officials in Pennsylvania is casting serious doubt on the halfway-house model, concluding that inmates who spent time in these facilities were more likely to return to crime than inmates who were released directly to the street.
The findings startled the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, which responded last month by drastically overhauling state contracts with the companies that run the 38 private halfway houses in Pennsylvania. The system costs more than $110 million annually.
The Community Education Center or CEC, featured in articles below, is one of the private companies contracted with to run the halfway houses in Pennsylvania and was determined to have the 3rd highest recidivism rate in the State of Pennsylvania.
In fact, the article quoted Dr. Edward Latessa, a criminologist who sits on the Board of Directors of CEC as stating that he is not surprised at the results of the study, that they only confirm what his study, conducted in 2009 showed, which was almost no positive results. Moreover, a review of his 2009 study shows that the study in 2009 only served to confirm the results of an earlier study conducted in 2002. The report is available here but be forewarned, it is 697 pages. Click here to view the report.
The CEC company spokesman, Christopher Greeder, gave a written statement contradicting Dr. Latessa's statement, saying the decision was a "landmark study". Click to view article.
There have been at least 3 studies commissioned over the past 11 years all producing the same results, yet the States continue to sink an unusually large amount of taxpayer's money into a system that does not work. The New York Times places the amount at $110 million per year in Pennsylvania and $100 million a year in New Jersey.
This past summer, New Jersey convened a Senate Panel to investigate the problem. Currently, there is a bill proposed to form a task force to launch an investigation which results will not be ready until 2014 or 2015.
Nancy Wolff, Center for Behavioral Health Services and Criminal Justice Research at Rutgers University, who testified at the legislative hearing last summer stated that the creation of the task force was a delaying tactic.
Governor Christie has been a very strong supporter of the halfway house program and denounced the 2013 PADOC Report as not being applicable to New Jersey.
PBA President Joe Amato has been a driving force in uncovering problems in New Jersey with Delaney and Logan Halls in Essex County. He witnessed first hand that the system was not working and was instrumental in bringing those problems to the attention of law makers.
August 21, 2012
ESSEX COUNTY PBA BLOWS THE LID OFF THE DELANEY HALL CORRUPTION SCANDAL AS ESSEX COUNTY IS EXPOSED FOR CONTRACTING WITH A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION WHICH ONLY HAS 6 EMPLOYEES TO CARE FOR A THOUSAND INMATES
The PBA President after 8 long years of butting heads with the Essex County Administration will finally have his day in court as he, together with the State PBA file suit against the County to resolve the long standing dispute over the safety of Delaney and Logan Halls.
In a law suit filed Monday, Essex County's dirty little money making enterprise is exposed in detail. Apparently, Essex County has contracted with a "non-profit" organization named Education and Health Centers of America, Inc. to provide inmate services for approximately 1000 inmates per year, this at a reduced cost to the County. That reduced cost amounts to a Contract awarding EHCA just under $130 million dollars over the next 3 years.
The County put the Contract out to bid and by law can only award the Contract to a non-profit organization. It awarded it to EHCA, a non-profit organization with 6 employees. You read that correctly, the County awarded a $130 million dollar contract to house 1000 inmates per year, to a company with 6 employees.
Four of the 6 employees, coincidently are also employees of the for-profit Community Education Center, known as the CEC, which has nearly 800 employees and holds the lease on both Delaney and Logan Halls. They are funneling hundreds of millions of dollars through the bogus non-profit company called EHCA to the for-profit company called Community Education Centers. Why are they doing this? Because legally they cannot award the Contract directly to CEC. EHCA only keeps 1% of the $130 million which probably goes to pay the salaries of the 4 employees who are employed by both companies. The President of EHCA receives a $350,000 a year salary from EHCA alone. That does not include the salary he receives from his position as President of CEC.
The State PBA has challenged the Board of Chosen Freeholders legal authority to issue the contract at all as both State Law and the Attorney General's Guidelines dictate that only the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections can authorize the housing and location of inmates, moreover, any change in housing can only be accomplished by way of a non-profit organization.
The Complaint demands that the Contract awarded to EHCA be declared null and void.
Outstanding Job President Amato!
July 28, 2012
PBA OFFICIALS TESTIFIED BEFORE THE SENATE PANEL ON PROBLEMS AT THE HALFWAY HOUSES: DISPUTE CEC'S ASSERTION THAT THEY ARE RUNNING "REHAB FACILITIES" AS OPPOSED TO "PRIVATE PRISON FACILITIES"
On July 19, 2012, and July 23, 2012, the Senate Panel heard testimony from numerous officials on the problems with the privately run halfway houses, to include Delany and Logan Halls as featured in the NY Times, most notably run by CEC, the Community Education Centers. Testifying at the hearing was a PBA Panel made up of 3 PBA reps from Monmouth, Essex and Mercer Counties. The 2nd Panel was led by NJ Superior Officers Association President, Jeffrey Smith. Testimony was also taken on the 2nd day from Hudson County Administrator of Investigations, Thaddeus Caldwell.
Full testimony from the July 19, 2012 session can be heard here: Monmouth County skip to mark 2:48:15: Essex County 2:51:15; Mercer County 3:02:14; PBA SOA President 3:11:04
OFFICER RICH BROWN, CHAIRMAN OF THE NJ PBA CORRECTIONS COMMITTEE, MONMOUTH COUNTY, testified:
"Halfway houses in this state have become nothing more than private prisons without rules. They lack oversight, they lack clear statewide standards, they are used as free bed space to make County governments millions and are a breeding ground for drugs, violence and weapons that place residence, counselors and corrections officers at risk."
(His testimony can be heard at mark 2:48:15 of the transcript.)
ESSEX COUNTY PBA PRESIDENT testified:
"You don't want to mix low level inmates and those that need rehabilitation with violent criminals, but unfortunately, that is what's going on."
"Delany Hall is absolutely a jail that was built within the jail system. It is all about profit. Just to give you an example, we talk about whether or not they are in the rehab business or whether they are in the jail business:
As of 10:00 this morning, Delany Hall's population was 798, of those 798, 36 were sentenced.
Logan Hall's population at 10:00 this morning was 216, 63 of those were sentenced.
The rest of them are pre-adjudicated, presentenced recidivist, violent criminals with bails as high as $100,000.00
So, I would hope that today is the beginning of the end in that we are not going to allow any politicians or elected officials or company officials to tell you that they are in the rehab business, they are in the corrections business."
(His testimony can be heard at mark 2:51:15 of the transcript.)
MERCER COUNTY PBA PRESIDENT, OFFICER DONALD J. RYLAND, testified:
The County Mercer contracted with CEC for halfway house, Bo Robinson, to afford non-violent drug offenders the opportunity to be treated for drug addiction.
PBA President Ryland testified that most if not all of the staff at Bo Robinson have little to no training compared to correction officers and are not trained to handle the situations that they encounter. He offered examples to include an instance in 2010 when 20 state and county correction officers were called on to search for dangerous contraband. Also in 2009, a Bo Robinson counselor let a dangerous inmate under her control walk away from a dentist office which resulted in a domestic situation with a civilian.
It was further revealed that the DOC is responsible for many of the costs of the treatment center to include medical, dental and transportation services. Moreover, he related that more than 1/2 of the residents of the halfway house failed their drug test.
PBA President Ryland concluded that it is morally and socially wrong to use tax payers monies to sustain these failing programs.
(His testimony can be heard at mark 3:02:14 of the transcript.)
OFFICER JEFFREY SMITH, PRESIDENT SUPERIOR OFFICERS ASSOCIATION testified that the halfway houses are a revolving door. While there are those that legitimately seek rehabilitation from the halfway houses, there are also those who look at them as an enterprise.
"An environment where it is easier to obtain contraband, it's easier to obtain drugs, it's easier to distribute drugs as there is a very good customer base in these facilities because there are people who have drug problems who they are looking to sell drugs to."
(His testimony can be heard at mark 3:11:04 of the transcript.)
The committee asked if it would be better to either give more training to the halfway house staff or staff the halfway houses with corrections officers. All those asked felt that the halfway houses would not be interested in staffing with corrections officers as currently they make their profit using low salaried employees. They stress that the criteria used to determine who gains entry into the halfway houses should be more stringent and if done correctly, as in no pre-adjusicated or presentenced entry, there would be no need for correction officers in the halfway houses.
Another problem which was cited by the PBA was the lack of transparency of the private company, that being that the records of the CEC were not readily supplied for review or available through OPRA requests.
2ND DAY OF TESTIMONY, July 23, 2012, BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE
THADDEUS CALDWELL, HUDSON COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR OF INVESTIGATIONS and RETIRED NJDOC employee,testified:
Mr. Caldwell testified that he was assigned to the Special Investigation Unit, Fugitive Division between the years of 2002 and 2006 while at Northern State Prison. At that time Mr. Caldwell related that there were approximately 300 active escapees and only 6 Investigators assigned to round them up. He testified that the halfway houses accounted for an inordinate amount of the escapees and that many of the escapees had extensive criminal backgrounds to include violent crimes and weapons offenses.
Moreover, Caldwell testified that once apprehended, the Prosecutor's Offices were reluctant to press criminal charges of escape against the escapees and left the individual Counties to handle the matters administratively, this despite being a 3rd degree crime.
Caldwell testified that after retiring in 2009 from Northern State Prison, he worked briefly, for approximately 6 months, at Delany Hall in Essex County. He then resigned because of severe security problems. He stated that the security staff at this facility was only given a total of 5 days of training.
He also recommended, as did the PBA representatives that violent criminals and pre-adjudicated inmates should not be permitted to participate in the halfway house programs.
(His testimony can be heard at mark 17:16 of the July 23rd transcript.)
PBA PRESIDENT BATTLES TO EXPOSE THE DANGERS OF PRIVATIZNG SAFEHOUSE'S LIKE DELANEY & LOGAN HALL FINALLY GETS RESULTS
PBA Local 382 President has fought tirelessly for the past 8 years to expose the dangers occurring at the privately run re-enty/rehabilitation facilities of Delany and Logan Halls in Essex County. He has repeatedly brought the problem to the attention of Essex County Officials who would not heed his warnings and the warnings of the Correction Officers of PBA Local 382 as they opted to protect the very lucrative cash cows run by the privately owned company, Community Education Centers, a company with deep connections to both political parties, most notably Governor Chris Christie.
Community Education Center, (CEC), has received about $71 million from state and county agencies in New Jersey in the 2011 fiscal year, out of total halfway house spending of roughly $105 million, according to state and company records.
While the idea behind the privately run halfway house may have had merit, the results have been nothing short of disastrous.
THE NY TIMES INVESTIGATION FOUND:
Since 2005, roughly 5,100 inmates have escaped from the state’s privately run halfway houses, including at least 1,300 in the 29 months since Governor Christie took office, according to an analysis by The Times.
Some inmates left through the back, side or emergency doors of halfway houses, or through smoking areas, state records show. Others placed dummies in their beds as decoys, or fled while being returned to prison for violating halfway houses’ rules. Many had permission to go on work-release programs but then did not return.
While these halfway houses often resemble traditional correctional institutions, they have much less security. There are no correction officers, and workers are not allowed to restrain inmates who try to leave or to locate those who do not come back from work release, the most common form of escape. The halfway houses’ only recourse is to alert the authorities.
And so the inmates flee in a steady stream: 46 last September, 39 in October, 40 in November, 38 in December, state records show.
“The system is a mess,” said Thaddeus B. Caldwell, who spent four years tracking down halfway house escapees in New Jersey as a senior corrections investigator. “No matter how many escaped, no matter how many were caught, no matter how many committed heinous acts while they were on the run, they still kept releasing more guys into the halfway houses, and it kept happening over and over again.”
By contrast, the state’s prisons had three escapes in 2010 and none in the first nine months of 2011, the last period for which the state gave figures.
These facilities have been touted as affordable alternatives to the already, very over-crowed prison systems. The idea was to place low-level offenders into the halfway house to save money. The State estimates that the cost of housing an inmate at a Corrections Facility is currently $125 - $150 dollars a day as compared to $60 - $75 per day at the halfway house. The problem is that the halfway houses are not staffed by law enforcement officers, they are instead staffed by private personnel who have no powers of arrest and cannot stop the inmates from walking away from the facility.
The PBA President and members of Local PBA 382 quickly identified bigger problems, same being that it was not only low level offenders that were being housed in the facilities but high level offenders, including those who have committed the most heinous crimes. Once transferred from the jail to the halfway house, these offenders were simply walking away from the facility and in some instances, killing again.
New Jersey officials have called these large facilities an innovative example of privatization. Yet with little oversight, the state's halfway houses have mutated into shadow corrections networks, where drugs, gang activity and violence, including sexual assaults, often go unchecked, according to a 10-month investigation by The New York Times.
The PBA has been dealing with this for many years and has brought this to the attention of every law enforcement agency in the State only to be met with political resistance. Still he never gave up and never stopped believing that his efforts would someday shed light on the badly broken and dangerous practices of the Community Education Center.
THE PBA PRESIDENT HITS THE NAIL SQUARELY ON THE HEAD WHEN HE STATES:
What may have begun as an"alternative to incarceration" for these needy people within our jail and prison system has been turned into a profit based and politically protected human trade business where inmates are used as a commodity and even murder was overlooked as to not interfere with the millions being generated.
Murder, rape, assault, gang activity, over 5000 escapes etc. and this gang activity had been the subject of recent court testimony regarding a murder which occurred in Delaney Hall where the actual convicted murderer had been used by DH officials to teach classes and in this same court testimony along with the entire NYT report, it was fully revealed in the inmates own words, that inmates run the show, counselors are scared to death and criminal enterprises exist behind the walls of these 3 facilities used by Essex and Mercer Counties for pre-adjudicated county inmates.
Now that the issue has been brought to the attention of all officials through the media, the officials are searching for a way to fix the problem. President Amato and the members of PBA Local 382 have been hearing rumors that they are considering assigning corrections officers to Delaney and Logan Halls.
Rumors in Essex:
The one rumor I heard here in Essex and obviously as a way for our county officials to lighten their guilt, was a plan to assign correction officers into the private facilities and while I can't confirm the actual plan going into effect, I can confirm that discussions were held and I have already been contacted by several officers who said...I'm not going!
This private company as you will see in the reports, was paid millions upon millions for years asthey built this fake jail empire, which now I would hope is going to be dismantled. As far as the PBA is concerned, real correction officers will not be used to protect the posers or used as pawns so that elected officials can save face for wrongfully sending our violent inmates out to these facilities in the first place.Why should correction officers be sent to bail out the billionaires now that they have been exposed as politically protected failures?
Furthermore I don't think correction officers should be subjected to watching violent gang members teaching life skill seminars or working side by side with x-inmates who are now called counselors. While I would agree with any officers concerns on being assigned to these private death traps, I would rather not see any officers refuse a direct order if given, but I can assure you that any ridiculous plan toassign publicly employed and publicly funded correction officers to a private facility will be addressed in court immediately and argued that this would be another politically corrupt action made by county officials in regard to an already corrupted county contract with a corrupted private vendor, aside from the numerous labor/contractual/civil service type litigation which will be filed by the PBA.
The PBA President sums up the situation best when he points out the obvious:
"Now that the issues have been exposed, I would suggest bringing the privatized pre-adjudicated inmates back to jail rather than trying to bring the jail to the privatized inmates."
CONGRATULATIONS TO MEMBERS OF PBA LOCAL 382 FOR THEIR CONTINUED DEDICATION AND PERSISTANCE TO THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE!