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Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo

Essex to create civilian oversight board for corrections facility

Former District Court judge to serve as task force director

By Nikita Biryukov, October 22 2019 12:25 pm

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Essex County’s freeholders will consider an ordinance creating a civilian oversight committee for its county correctional facility Wednesday.

“The creation of the Civilian Task Force is an initiative that we take very seriously, which is demonstrated by our nomination of Judge Linares as its Executive Director. We promised we would appoint a Civilian Task Force, and these are tremendous first steps in that direction,” County Executive Joe DiVincenzo said. “We believe the task force will provide us with a different perspective on our Correctional Facility and provide additional transparency that will help us continue to operate the ECCF at the highest level.”

Retired Chief District Court Judge Jose Linares will be appointed to serve as the task force’s executive director.

The nine-member task force is intended to act independently of the county government in inspecting the Essex County Correctional Facility and interview inmates, corrections officers and detainees to conduct a review of the jail’s systemic problems.

Of the board’s remaining members, one bust belong to a detainee advocacy group and another to a recognized inmate advocacy group.

A third must be in good standing with a criminal defense Bar, another must be a corrections expert and a fifth must be a former inmate.

The board will also include a social justice advocate, a member of the public and an expert in the medical field.

“I want to commend the Administration on the creation of the Civilian Oversight Task Force. This initiative shows a strong commitment from the Administration to provide transparency in protecting the rights of all detainees being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility,” Freeholder President Brendan Gill said. “The ordinance is the result of the hard work of the County Executive’s office, advocacy groups, and the ACLU. It has been my pleasure to work closely with these groups in bringing this process to fruition.”

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