A recent editorial from the Casper Star Tribune takes a reasonable and sensible look at the realities of correctional populations and the role of halfway houses play in transitioning offenders from prison back into the community.
Halfway houses are designed to help in that critical transition, and give an inmate or parolee a chance to keep from committing another crime and returning to prison….
In the end, we must trust that the corrections system is able to evaluate whether a person’s time in prison has truly changed them, and whether they deserve a second chance like the one Carothers has requested.
Delaney Hall and Logan Hall, reentry facilities that were inaccurately portrayed in a recent and sensational New York Times series on reentry services in New Jersey were both recommended to receive 100% scores on all mandatory and non-mandatory standards after reviews by American Correctional Association audit teams. The facilities will receive their official accreditation at the ACA conference in Houston next winter. ACA accreditation is a nationally recognized measure of a facility’s safe and secure operations and over 1,300 public and private facilities are accredited nationwide.
About ACA accreditation:
The ACA accreditation program is a professional peer review process based on national standards that have evolved since the founding of the Association in 1870. The standards were developed by national leaders from the field of corrections, law, architecture, health care, and other groups who are interested in sound correctional management.
ACA standards address services, programs, and operations essential to effective correctional management. Through accreditation, an agency is able to maintain a balance between protecting the public and providing an environment that safeguards the life, health, and safety of staff and offenders. Standards set by ACA reflect practical up-to-date policies and procedures and function as a management tool for agencies and facilities throughout the world.
Dr. Robert Mackey, Senior Vice President for Clinical Services, Quality Assurance and Research, was invited to speak at the NJ Assembly Hearing on New Jersey’s reentry services. Click here to read Dr. Mackey’s full testimony.
Much of CEC’s success has been the result of our value-added programs provided to the state at no additional cost. Our facilities go beyond contractual demands in providing additional services to residents. CEC maintains an extensive network of Family Services programming to offenders and their families, including partnerships with the National Fatherhood Initiative, and programs for incarcerated mothers and weekly family service sessions. The programs are conducted by staff who also supervise Master’s and Doctorate level interns from Rutgers, Seton Hall, Fordham, Drexel and Columbia University, among others. We are equally proud of our other value –added programs including an outstanding Alumni program, a Research division and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Academy, which provides training, at no cost to employees, to fulfill requirements for state certification.
Representatives from Community Education Centers were invited to present at the July 19 New Jersey Senate Oversight Committee hearing on New Jersey’s reentry systems. John J. Clancy, Chairman and CEO of CEC and Arthur Townes, Director of the Alumni Association, presented to the committee and made several key points regarding the facts and effectiveness of New Jersey’s reentry system to a room packed full of supportive CEC staff from across the state.
Excerpt from John Clancy’s testimony:
Since 1999, the prison population in New Jersey has dropped from a high of 31,000 inmates to under 24,000 today – the most dramatic decline of any state in the nation. Today, New Jersey’s incarceration rate is the 10th lowest in the country. In addition, the Pew Center on the States last year published a study on recidivism rates and found that New Jersey’s rate dropped by 11.4% for the period studied, the best in the Northeast and the 5th best in the country.
Click here to read all of John Clancy’s testimony.
Excerpt from Arthur Townes, Director of the CEC Alumni Association:
Talbot Hall did not only save my life, but gave me the opportunity to start a new life that I have devoted to helping the formerly incarcerated. For those of you here who have not struggled with the disease of addiction and the life of crime that often accompanies it, you can easily dismiss the phrase “Talbot Hall Saved My Life,” as a catch phrase. But for those of you here today that have faced an alcohol or substance abuse addiction or known someone whose has, the words “Talbot Hall Saved My Life,” will ring true because in each recovered addicts life there is a life changing moment when they realize they can no longer live a life of drugs and crime. For me that moment was at Talbot Hall.
Click here to read all of Arthur Townes’ testimony.
From the Associated Press report on the July 19th New Jersey State Senate hearing:
State Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan defended the work of the halfway houses, saying they do a good job of helping offenders return to the community. He said some of the reports were overblown.
Over the past 6 1 / 2years, 2,400 people have been reported as walking away from the facilities. But Lanigan said that figure included residents returning from their jobs and being delayed by a late bus. He said nearly three in 10 return within 24 hours and more than half within a week. In addition, he said, the number of walkaways has dropped since 2010.
Lanigan said his department has implemented 32 of the 35 recommendations laid out in a state comptroller’s report last year dealing with contracts with halfway houses.
In its recent series, the New York Times inaccurately reported that 5,100 inmates had “escaped” New Jersey’s community release programs and failed to make clear the legal distinction between a parole absconder and escapee. Through sensational headlines and the placement of key information buried deep in their articles, the NY Times also mislead readers to believe that Community Education Centers, Inc. was responsible for the majority of “escapes” from New Jersey community release programs.
Statement from Community Education Centers, Inc, in response to the New York Times on July 17, 2012.
“Again, the New York Times has failed to understand the definitions of certain key terms, and then chose to rely on one side’s position in a complex pending litigation, leading it to make false claims about the financial stability of Community Education Centers, Inc.
To repeat what we have repeatedly explained to the Times: CEC has never defaulted on the payment of its debt obligations, has never had a disruption of a contract in New Jersey or any other state, and has never missed a payroll. In the company’s sixteen years of operation, it has never had plans for bankruptcy and never hired bankruptcy counsel. The Times is ignoring the real facts, and in focusing on one party’s version of the story, has reported misleading and false assertions. There was no basis to do so. Indeed, the Times chose to cherry pick isolated assertions made in a pending civil litigation filed by plaintiffs who stand to gain financially by intentionally harming CEC.
The referenced events in the litigation concern compliance with certain financial covenants contained in the Company’s loan document. Those issues were subsequently remedied as evidenced by a clean audit opinion for the Company’s annual financial statements. During the financial downturn, many companies violated covenants contained in loan agreements; but as the New York Times surely knows, many such covenants are technical, and merely being in violation of such a covenant does not mean that a company defaulted on its obligation to repay its debts. Again, it was false for the Times to suggest that CEC has ever defaulted on any obligation to repay a loan. CEC has never done so.
The historic, global financial crisis of 2008-09 had a negative impact on CEC, as it did on countless other companies, particularly those, like CEC, that work exclusively with the public sector. During the most challenging moments of the economic downturn, CEC always continued to meet its contractual obligations. And CEC remains justifiably proud of its daily efforts as a leading provider of offender reentry services.”
A new print advertisement highlighted community support for CEC New Jersey reentry programs. Agencies that CEC NJ reentry residents volunteer for or utilize as work release sites responded with letters that commended residents and staff for their hard work and dedicated efforts.
Statement From Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1040:
For the past two years, the Communications Workers of America, Local 1040 has represented Employees working at Community Education Centers’ Albert “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center. Over these two years, the hard work, honesty, integrity and dedication, of our union members has made a strong difference in our communities by improving the lives of the individuals, with whom we work. The reports of inappropriate employee conduct referenced by the New York Times do not accurately reflect the efforts of our Union members and their positive and meaningful experiences working inside Bo Robinson during Local 1040 and CEC’s two year relationship.
Carolyn C. Wade, President, CWA Local 1040
CWA Local 1040 members work at The Albert M. Bo Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center in Trenton, NJ
The Trenton Times reported on Saturday June 30, 2012, that Charlie Ellis, Warden at the Mercer County Correctional Center, responded to the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders and said he was “comfortable” with Mercer County usage of the The Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center in Trenton, New Jersey.
On Thursday, MCCC warden Charles Ellis assured the freeholders that any problems with the county’s inmates at Bo Robinson have always been addressed satisfactorily.
“I have a different perspective on the issues,” said Ellis. “I am very comfortable working with them.
“There has never been an incident of violence with a Mercer County inmate to my knowledge,” Andrew Mair, county administrator, told the board.
June 22, 2012
District 1199J National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME/AFL-CIO
District 1199J, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME/AFL-CIO, believes that the recent allegations made by New York Times are not an accurate reflection of its experience with the Company and do not reflect the meaningful work provided by the Union’s hardworking men and women, who every day are making a difference in our community. We proudly stand behind our 300 union members working inside four CEC reentry facilities whose efforts provide people with a second chance on life and make our communities safer.
Susan Cleary, President, District 1199J
District 1199J members work at Delaney Hall, Logan Hall, The Harbor, Tully House all located in Newark, NJ.