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Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Essex seeks release of ICE detainees

Resolution looks to reduce risk of spreading COVID-19 between inmates and guards

By David Wildstein, May 26 2020 11:16 pm

Update: Essex County freeholders voted 9-0 to table a resolution to seeking the release of ICE detainees at the county correctional facility until June 10.

The Essex County Board of Freeholders will consider a resolution on Wednesday asking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release non-violent detainees at the Essex County Correctional Facility.

The resolution is a late addition to the agenda sponsored by Freeholder President Brendan Gill, along with Wayne Richardson and Rufas Johnson.

Essex currently has about 400 ICE detainees, some of whom have already tested positive for COVID-19.

“The release of the ICE detainees being held will certainly reduce the risk of the virus spreading between inmates and guards, and will reduce the risk of ECCF staff members spreading it to our communities outside of the jail when they leave the facility,” Gill’s resolution states.  “Alternatives to incarceration can be employed to monitor non-violent offenders while they await trial for civil offenses and those alternatives, such as electronic bracelet monitors, are not only cheaper but they will help save lives.”

While the resolution is non-biding and simply calls on ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to released the detainees, it stops short of seeking to terminate Essex County’s contract with ICE.

Essex had 17,279 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, and 1,608 deaths.

The Essex correctional facility hold about 1,500 inmates.

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