TRENTON – Members of the state’s Police Benevolent Association urged Senate lawmakers to take a serious look at Essex County’s Delaney Hall, saying the halfway house there has become a serious safety hazard.
The Essex County facility was one of the halfway houses specifically mentioned in a scathing New York Times series on the state’s halfway house programs. Members of the PBA had sharp words for Delaney Hall, a 1,200-bed halfway house set up as an inmate rehabilitation center.
“Delaney Hall is all about profit,” said Joe Amato during a Legislative Oversight Committee hearing today on the state’s halfway house program.
Amato, a member of PBA Local 382 who works for the Essex County Department of Corrections, testified that inmates at the county jail choose solitary confinement over being forced to be housed at Delaney Hall because “they themselves know how dangerous it is,” he said.
He referred to Delaney Hall as a “horror show,” saying inmates are brought to the rehab facility before even being arraigned before a judge.
“These inmates are sent there before they’ve been arraigned. Talk about re-entry? We don’t even know what their threat level is yet,” said Amato, adding that some inmates could be sent to the halfway house and later have bond set as high as $100,000.
“Keep people who need to be in jail in jail,” he said.
Amato made mention of a man highlighted in the New York Times series who was murdered at Delaney Hall while being housed for a traffic violation. The victim in the story was murdered by repeat offenders who, Amato argued, shouldn’t have been at Delaney Hall.