N.J. Workers Want Prisons Chief Out Over Race Talk


A union representing sergeants at New Jersey prisons wants Gov. James E. McGreevey to dismiss Corrections Commissioner Devon Brown because of racially charged comments about the inequitable treatment of blacks and Hispanics in the criminal justice system.

The New York Times says that the New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association, said Brown’s speech at a conference on minorities in prison was “highly inappropriate and racially charged,” and that it would aggravate tensions between inmates and corrections officers. Brown, who is black, said at a Nov. 8 conference at Rutgers that, “This state and nation has lost a generation of young African-Americans and Hispanics, both male and female, to the criminal justice juggernaut.” The union also criticized r comments drawing parallels to slave-era plantations. The union’s demand was first reported on Tuesday by The Record of Hackensack. “It’s a personnel issue, and we’re treating it internally,” said a corrections department spokesman, Chris Carden.

Brown told The Record that the union was angered by proposals that could result in cuts in prison staffing. He has supported a state commission to review sentencing laws in light of prison costs that have risen to $1.1 billion from $200 million in the last 20 years.

The letter from two top union officers said, “We are extraordinarily concerned that the State of New Jersey has implemented a policy to return violent criminals to all of our neighborhoods simply to save money.” Ellen Mellody, a McGreevey spokeswoman, said: “The state has not adopted any such policy. The letter is inaccurate, and the governor does not support the early release of prisoners as a cost-saving measure.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/31/nyregion/31PRIS.html?pagewanted=all

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