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I have written in the past regarding my concern for the fact that prisoners released from the 5 jails in Cumberland county are released onto our streets rather than sent back to the County that sentenced them.
What needs to be addressed is the substantial burden that the rest of New Jersey places on Cumberland County first by housing their criminals, including sex offenders, in Cumberland County Prisons and then having them dumped here after they are released. This burden includes:
1. The cost of fighting crime. The Cumberland County municipal police departments must increase their patrols and manpower to keep the potential for criminal activity in check. They need continuous training to understand and recognize increased gang activity and curtail their growth. This falls on the taxpayers to support the fight against crime.
2. The cost of social services. It is a fact that the demand on our social services has increased. A large percentage of the cost is borne by the County. The unemployment rolls for Cumberland County are the highest in the state. For the most part, the released criminals are either unemployable or do not want to work. Many of their family members are also unemployed or unemployable. Their presence increase the welfare rolls yearly. It is a fact that many prisoners and released prisoners do not have the ability to payand therefore we, the taxpayers of Cumberland County, are paying for the costs to raise the children of these prisoners and ex-prisoners from all over the State.
3. The strain on our neighborhoods. Many of the families of the prisoners decide to move to Cumberland County to be close by in order to visit. I understand that they are free to move wherever they choose, but the fact remains that they come here to be closer with their incarcerated relatives. These families often cannot afford housing and take advantage of the low income residences and funding available in our County. Many of our own less fortunate County residents then find it difficult to obtain housing. We need to face the fact that many of the residents of the County with high paying jobs are moving out and are being replaced with low and no income families. Our neighborhoods are changing for the worse.
4. Burden on our School Systems. As the families of the prisoners move here, or the ex-prisoners start their own families, their children are placed in our school system as an additional burden to our taxpayers. Often these children have had a disadvantaged upbringing and our schools and teachers are forced to take the role of caregiver. Speak to any teacher in the more urban areas of our County and they will tell you that many of the problem children have a parent who is or was incarcerated.
There are many other negative impacts brought on by the release of prisoners onto our streets as you can imagine. It is not the fact that prisons are here that is the problem. The prisons do bring good professional jobs and employment. The problem is the fact that these convicts are not taken back to the county that sent them here and that our 7-0 Democratic county Freeholder Board has totally failed to address the situation. Maybe they don’t want to upset their North Jersey Democrat friends or they just don’t see the problem exists
A few months ago, I attended a Freeholder meeting with my running mates Sam Fiocchi and Tom Sheppard. The Freeholders, Sheriff and Surrogate were passing out awards to approximately 20 school children involved in a contest. The children were asked to prepare a poster of what Cumberland County meant to them. The child who won “The Most Intriguing” category presented a poster with a black background and a large building in the middle. Atop of the building was printed “JAIL.” This was what Cumberland County meant to this child. I was not “Intrigued.” I was disturbed. Out of the mouths of babes . . . We need to say NO to the 7-0 Democrat Freeholder Board and elect freeholders who are not afraid to make their voices heard in Trenton. That means voting for Tonetta, Sheppard and Fiochhi.
Cumberland County Freeholder