COVID-19 spreads among NJ jail, prison staff and inmates
As New Jersey grapples with COVID-19, the number of jails and prisons also seeing cases has been on the rise, according to data from county and state officials.
By April 6, at least 170 correctional officers or other staff and 50 inmates or federal detainees had tested positive in the state.
On March 26, a law firm representing the state's Coalition of Correctional Police Custody Staff Unions sent letters to the state Department of Corrections and the state Juvenile Justice Commission requesting a dedicated COVID-19 testing site for corrections staff.
Concern for spread of the novel coronavirus was the motivation for a March 22 court order temporarily releasing hundreds of the lowest-level offenders who have less than a year left to serve in county jails.
Alexander Shalom, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said at the time that all parties involved were “concerned about public safety, but a recognition that public health is a critical part of public safety — and that keeping all New Jerseyans safe includes incarcerated people, people who work in jails and the people who love them.”
As of March 24, at least two corrections officers and four county inmates at facilities across North Jersey had tested positive for novel coronavirus. Since then, the numbers have increased.
Hudson County Jail (Kearny)
Bergen County Jail (Hackensack)
- 16 corrections Officers have tested positive
- 8 sheriff's Officers have tested positive
- 2 nurses have tested positive
- 2 ICE detainees have tested positive (1 was released two weeks ago)
- 1 county inmate has tested positive
Morris County Jail (Morristown)
- 20 corrections officers and civilian staff have tested positive
- 9 inmates have tested positive
- The facility is in lockdown, which essentially means inmates are only out of their cells a half-hour a day.
Essex County Jail (Newark)
- 16 correctional staff tested positive; 1 has returned to work
- 2 ICE detainees tested positive, one of them was treated at University hospital and returned
- 5 inmates housed at Delaney Hall tested positive
- In addition, 1 correction recruit tested positive while at Police Academy but had not been at the jail.
Monmouth County Jail (Freehold)
- 2 inmates tested positive. Both are in isolation, being treated for “mild cases of COVID-19” and now are "symptom and fever free," according to a Sheriff's Office spokesman.
The state Department of Corrections has reported COVID-19 cases involving 67 employees, five state prison inmates, and three residents of halfway houses, as of April 6. Cases are at the following 11 facilities.
Northern State Prison (Newark)
- 17 employees, 2 inmates have tested positive
- 1 COVID-19 death: nurse Susan Cicala, who worked at the prison and Clara Maas Medical Center
Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Clinton Township)
- 12 employees, 2 inmates have tested positive
Garden State Youth Correctional Facility (Chesterfield)
- 8 employees have tested positive
Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility (Clinton Township)
- 7 employees have tested positive
East Jersey State Prison (Rahway)
- 6 employees have tested positive
Central Reception and Assignment Facility (Trenton)
- 6 employees have tested positive
New Jersey State Prison (Trenton)
- 3 employees, 1 inmate have tested positive
Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (Woodbridge)
- 3 employees have tested positive
Southern State Correctional Facility (Cumberland County)
- 1 employee has tested positive
There are also two NJDOC employees at the Correctional State Training Academy and another at the Custody Recruitment Unit who have tested positive.