Posted on Fri, Jan. 16, 2009


Glouco to move juvenile inmates to Lakeland

By Matt Katz

Inquirer Staff Writer
Gloucester County's juvenile detention center will close and inmates will be moved to a Camden County facility, according to a shared-services agreement announced yesterday.

Gloucester County will transfer its young detainees - the daily average is 10 - to a facility at the Lakeland complex in Gloucester Township, which has 49 inmates.

Officials from each county heralded the savings. Gloucester County said it would save an average of $1.7 million a year.

"We're not going to raise taxes, and we're going to do what we have to do to not cut programs and keep services," Gloucester County Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney said.

Under the deal, Gloucester County will pay Camden County about $200 daily for each detainee, but no more than $800,000 annually. It spends $2.5 million to run its facility in East Greenwich, according to County Administrator Chad Bruner.

The agreement means about a dozen layoffs, Bruner said. Some of the 29 employees on the payroll will be transferred to the new facility or placed in open positions elsewhere in Gloucester County government.

"There are families that are being impacted, and we do care, but government cannot just be the payroll for the entire population," Sweeney said.

Gov. Corzine has advocated shared services to save money in tight fiscal times, and yesterday he predicted more agreements.

"I think in the next several months you'll see real action with regard to shared services," he said.

Officials said the Camden County facility was just two years old, with better amenities and extra space for Gloucester County detainees. If there is an overflow, Cumberland County has agreed to accept prisoners.

The mayor in Gloucester Township, Cindy Rau-Hatton, questioned how the arrangement had come about.

"The police chief and I were not advised of this or part of any discussion," said Rau-Hatton, a Republican in a Democrat-controlled county. "Governmentally, absolutely we should have been. I thank The Inquirer for letting me know."

She said she worried about placing additional criminally convicted individuals in the township.

Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli called the plan a "win-win" and dismissed concerns.

"It's such a minimal impact with these few children, there's nothing for anybody in Gloucester Township to be alarmed about," he said.

The 560-acre Lakeland complex, which is largely county-owned, has been proposed as a redevelopment site by county and local officials, and Rau-Hatton wants the area to have tax-generating properties such as shops and houses.

Adding prisoners does not promote redevelopment, she said.

Cappelli said it would have "absolutely no impact" on redevelopment. "The facility is already there. It's a safe facility," he said.

Last year, Rau-Hatton got into a scrap with county officials over Lakeland when the freeholders announced a plan to cut overnight park police coverage there. The plan was killed after the county's police chiefs said it was an unfair burden to place on Gloucester Township police.

Contact staff writer Matt Katz at 856-779-3919 or mkatz@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Adrienne Lu contributed to this report.

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