Thursday, July 9th, 2015

A transition team formed by the Morris County freeholders to help format a smooth takeover of the Morris County Jail from the sheriff as of Sept. 1, 2015, kicked off its work this week to ensure that the management change at the jail – from the county sheriff to the freeholders — is handled professionally, and that the county lockup remains safe, secure and well run during and after the transition.

Freeholder-Appointed County Jail Transition Team Starts Work

County officials also met this week with Sheriff Edward Rochford to discuss the jail transition, including offering to place some members of the sheriff’s staff on the transition team, and discussing the possibility that the sheriff could maintain a level of involvement in management of the jail after Sept. 1. 

That meeting, which took place Monday evening, included Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo, Freeholder Doug Cabana, County Administrator John Bonanni, Sheriff Rochford, and Undersheriff William Schievella. The sheriff was asked to respond to the county’s offer by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the freeholders at their meeting on Wednesday night reiterated their intent to have the county government administration assume direct management of the county jail, which would make Morris County the 11th county to directly run its county lockup. 

The freeholders voted on June 24 to take control of the jail due to a continued lack of communication by the sheriff with the administration, and serious concerns about fiscal management accountability, including labor contracts and overtime pay, among other issues.

That move also came after an attorney representing the sheriff advised the freeholders that, in his opinion, the county administration was no longer a co-employer at the jail and had no role in management and labor agreements — unless the freeholders assumed jail management.

The transition team, which held its first meeting on Monday, includes former Undersheriffs Ralph McGrane and Frank Corrente, who ran the jail in the late 1990s and 2000s; former Undersheriff Staci Santucci, former Morris County Chief Sheriff’s Officer Gerard Marinelli, County Administrator John Bonanni, County Department of Law & Public Safety Director Scott Di Giralomo, County Manager of Labor Relations Allison Stapleton, and County Finance Director/Treasurer Joseph Kovalcik.

The objective of transition would be to simply enact a managerial change that would put the county administration directly in charge of the jail and have the warden report to the county Department of Law and Public Safety. 

At its initial meeting, the transition team stressed the need to ensure a safe and secure jail, to maintain the jail’s top-ranked accreditation, and maintain current inmate management procedures. Team members stressed they do not anticipate any impact on the public, and issued strong support for the highly qualified staff that is currently employed at the jail.

To view the freeholder’s jail take over resolution, please visit: http://morriscountynj.gov/pdfs/resolution%20jail%20takeover.pdf