Hudson, Union Counties move forward with reentry program to phase out ICE deal at Kearny jail

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A reentry program where Hudson County will provide drug rehabilitation and reentry services for Union County inmates to allow Hudson to phase out their deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cleared its first hurdle yesterday.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Both the Union and Hudson County Board of Commissioners approved resolutions in support of the new agreement at their respective meetings yesterday.

Hudson County renewed their ICE deal through the next decade at a contentious meeting in November where nearly two hundred people spoke out against the move. County officials announced this month that they’d be out of the contract by November 1st.

“Union County has been pursuing opportunities to reduce incarceration, prevent recidivism, and help individuals in the criminal justice system find a secure economic and social footing in their community,” Union County Commissioner Chairman Alexander Mirabella said in a statement.

“The new agreement with Hudson County builds on that commitment by allying our efforts with a top-rated program.”

The Hudson County Division of Reentry runs the only county-based residential substance abuse treatment program certified by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health & Addictions Services.

The program is designed to address housing and other barriers to reentry, along with direct clinical care.

The agreement with Hudson County will involve the transfer of Union County inmates currently housed at the Delaney Hall facility in Essex County. A grant from the New Jersey Department of Corrections will cover the roughly $3 million cost of the program.

“We’re pleased to enter this agreement with Union County. Our Corrections & Rehabilitation Center will provide state-leading, innovative substance abuse treatment and community reintegration services for those entrusted to us by Union County,” added Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.

“I want to thank Chairman Mirabella and the Union County Board of Commissioners for their vote of confidence in our facility. This is the future for HCC&R—one focused on offering a progressive, treatment and reintegration-based approach to reducing recidivism throughout the region.”

The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project has called for the release, not transfer, of Hudson detainees, while anti-ICE groups held a vigil outside U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) office yesterday calling for all New Jersey detainees to be released.

The agreement with Hudson County is part of a series of steps taken by Union County that reflect broad changes in the criminal justice system.

This year, Union County successfully completed the transfer of inmates from the Union County Jail in Elizabeth to the Essex County Jail, a move that is expected to save approximately $103 million over five years.

The transfer follows a significant drop in the Union County Jail population.

In 2019, Union County also closed its Juvenile Detention Center, saving $24.6 million a year, and sending its detainees to the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center in Newark.