New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey disagrees with his prisons chief over a proposal to soften the penalty for drug use by state inmates in halfway houses, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. “I think that’s wrong,” McGreevey said of Corrections Commissioner Devon Brown’s suggestion to ease a “zero tolerance” rule that sends halfway-house residents straight back to prison if they fail a drug test. Brown wants inmates caught using drugs to go to a prison processing center where officials would decide whether he or she deserved a second chance.
Brown is trying to change the way the state’s 21 privately run halfway houses help inmates return to society. Correction officers’ unions have asked McGreevey to fire Brown because they believe he’s trying to move more offenders out of prisons and into halfway houses. “When you add everything up, it’s clear to us what he’s doing,” said Lt. Jeff Smith, president of the Superior Officers Association. “He’s shifting inmate populations from state run facilities into privately run facilities.” Brown denies plans to increase the number of halfway house beds.