Assembly panel takes up halfway house problems

TRENTON – The second legislative halfway house hearing was in full swing Monday, as an Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee reviewed the matter of escapes and other problems after a Senate committee got first crack last week.  Chairman Charles Mainor said the purpose of the meeting is to determine what is broken and what needs to be fixed

“When escapes, gang activity, drugs and sex abuse are widespread…Something is terribly wrong and unacceptable.”

He also criticized Gov. Chris Christie for his line-item veto this year of more oversight of such facilities.

Stella Tulli, whose younger sister was murdered allegedly by a man who escaped from a halfway house, said she wanted to know why the man, Dave Godell, was paroled early given his violent past, and why given that history he was sent to a halfway house. She also wanted to know why he had a cell phone in the halfway house.

Godell was originally sent to prison for making terroristic threats and assaults.

Thaddeus Caldwell, a retired Corrections investigator who between 2002 and 2006 worked in the special  investigations fugitive unit, said he was one of six individuals assigned to capture hundreds of escapees.

He said in many cases with the captured escapees, they were issued administrative charges and sent to jail. However, they were not prosecuted.

Caldwell said the escapees had violent criminal history, involving weapons and assaults.

“I don’t believe (people) with extensive violent criminal histories should be allowed in halfway houses where they can simply walk out,” he said. “I say that’s unacceptable.”

He called it “a matter of common sense.”


Assembly panel takes up halfway house problems