Morris County Correctional Facility To House Female Inmates From Sussex County Through Shared Services Agreement

    The Morris County Board of Freeholders on Wednesday, March 27, approved a shared services agreement with Sussex County to house a minimum of five Sussex County female inmates per day at the Morris County Correctional Facility for $105 per inmate each day.

The Morris County freeholders voted 7-0 in support of the three-year agreement that will go into effect on Monday, April 1. The pact will remain in effect until March 31, 2022, unless terminated earlier by mutual consent.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon

The contract requires Morris County to make a minimum of five beds available for female Sussex County inmates. Sussex County will pay a minimum, annual amount of $191,625 to Morris County, even if it does not need five beds every day.

“This is another example of smart business through shared services,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon who negotiated the agreement with Sussex County Sheriff Michael F. Strada through the oversight of respective county counsels for both counties.

“We have a sophisticated operation at our correctional facility and this gives us an opportunity to cut our operating costs with the additional revenue from Sussex County,” Sheriff Gannon said.

“This is exactly the type of smart government we should be fostering in our state, to provide needed programs and services in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “In this case, it makes great sense for Morris County to partner with Sussex County, for the benefit of taxpayers in both counties.”

Morris County Correctional Facility
The Morris County Correctional Facility in Morris Township

Morris County already has shared service agreements through which Sussex and Warren counties use its Medical Examiner services, and other counties house their juveniles at the Morris County Juvenile Detention Center and Youth Shelter.

“I believe this shared service agreement is fair and works in the best interest of both Sussex and Morris counties,” Sheriff Strada said

“In Sussex County, this agreement will result in additional savings in the operations budget of our correctional facility. We were $2.7 million under budget last year and I expect that savings to increase with the transfer of our female inmate population to Morris County,” Sheriff Strada said.

“I look forward to working with Sheriff Gannon and his staff to ensure a smooth transition of inmates as we move forward with this agreement,” he said.

Opened in May 2000, the Morris County Correctional Facility off John Street in Morris Township was built to house 524 inmates but now has an average daily population of about 200 inmates.

The population at the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility in Newton, which opened in 1978, has been declining since statewide criminal justice reform, also known as bail reform, went into effect in 2017 and resulted in more arrestees being released pretrial under special conditions rather than being held in custody.

In 2016, the average daily inmate population at the Sussex County jail was 146 people. Currently, the daily population is between 70 and 80 people. Sheriff Strada has said the Sussex County jail is antiquated and needs a large infusion of money to bring it into compliance with building codes and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“It’s a great opportunity because of the shared services aspect,” Morris County Correctional Facility Warden Christopher Klein said.

A key provision of the agreement calls for Sussex County Sheriff’s Officers to transport female inmates to Morris County and then to subsequently retrieve and transport them back to Sussex County upon discharge.

Another provision calls for Morris County to provide all routine, non-hospital, non-emergency medical services. However, Sussex County would be responsible for the costs of all off-site medical care, emergency care, hospital care and extraordinary or non-routine medical care given to female Sussex County inmates housed by Morris County.

Sheriff Gannon, along with Warden Klein and Morris County Correctional Facility Undersheriff Alan J. Robinson, said the Morris County jail is uniquely suited to accommodate the Sussex County inmates because of its size, available space and multiple accreditations attesting to its professional operations.

The Morris County Correctional Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare. The ACA recently gave the Morris County Correctional Facility perfect scores of 100 on all mandatory and non-mandatory standards. The facility also is inspected annually by the state Department of Corrections.

The Sussex County inmates housed in Morris County will have equal access to educational and substance abuse programs, as well as special programs started by Sheriff Gannon that include the Successful Transition and Re-Entry Program (STAR) that assists inmates in re-entering the community, and the Hope Wing, for inmates struggling to overcome substance abuse addictions.


Morris County Sheriff and Corrections Officers Support Autism Awareness Through Sale of Multicolored Patches

Autism Awareness Patches
Morris County Sheriff’s Officers in the Bureaus of Law Enforcement and Corrections are selling vibrant patches to support Autism Awareness Month in April.

Morris County Sheriff and Corrections Officers are selling vivid, multicolored patches to draw attention to Autism during National Autism Awareness Month in April and will donate sale proceeds to a charity that serves clients with the disorder.

The patches that sell for $5 apiece bear the name “County of Morris Sheriff” and have the words “Autism Awareness” printed in a circle against a background of yellow, pink, red, green, orange and blue puzzle-shaped pieces.

Morris County Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville is handling patch sales on behalf of the Bureau of Law Enforcement and P.B.A. 151, while Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Mike Schweizer has organized patch sales for the bureau and its P.B.A. 298.

“We like raising money for charities, and people and kids like seeing all the different patches. This will help shine a light on Autism,” Lt. Schweizer said.

Officer Somerville works in the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Community Outreach and Planning Section, where officers – among other duties – oversee Project Lifesaver, a program whose 120 clients include people with Autism.

Autrism Awareness Patches and Morris County Sheriff's Officers
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Laura Bertelli, Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ashley Craig, and Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville, all of the office’s Community Outreach and Planning Section, display Autism Awareness patches whose sale proceeds will be donated to a charity that assists people with Autism.

Project Lifesaver clients, including people with Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease, wear ankle or wrist bracelets equipped with transmitters that enable police and rescue personnel to find them if they go missing.

“I support the spirit and enthusiasm behind the sales of the patches. Anything we can do to increase understanding of Autism – Autism Spectrum Disorder – is a noble cause,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.

Autism patches at the Morris County Correctional Facility
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer John Baena, Corrections Bureau Lt. Mike Schweizer, and Corrections Officer Eric Brauner display Autism Awareness patches the bureau is selling, with proceeds going to a charity that serves people with Autism.

In October of 2018, the Sheriff’s Office Bureaus of Corrections and Law Enforcement sold pink patches to heighten awareness of breast cancer and were able in January 2019 to donate $3,000 to the Carol W. and Julius A. Rippel Breast Center at Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System Cancer Care.

Anyone interested in purchasing an Autism patch can call Lt. Schweizer at 973-631-5433 or Officer Somerville at 973-285-6681.

National Autism Awareness Month was first declared in April 1970 by the Autism Society to increase awareness of the complex mental and developmental disability.



Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorer’s Post 140 Helps To Beautify Whippany River

Three members of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 140 on Saturday, March 23, climbed hillsides and scoured the banks of the Whippany River in Morristown for litter while participating in the 9th annual Whippany River clean-up.

Sheriff and Explorers at annual Whippany River cleanup
At the 9th annual Whippany River clean-up in Morristown on March 23, from left: Morris County Freeholder Douglas Cabana, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Sheriff’s Office Corporal Laura Bertelli, Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 140 Member Chris Primamore, Explorer Steven Fasano, Explorer Vani Gupta, and state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco.

Two Explorer’s Post advisers – Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Laura Bertelli and Sergeant Walter Rawa – accompanied the teenage Explorers – Steven Fasano, Vani Gupta and Chris Primamore – on their quest to rid the riverbanks of a year’s accumulation of cans, bottles, plastic and Styrofoam.

Vani Gupta at the Whippany River cleanup
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 140 Member Vani Gupta collected litter with fellow Explorers at the annual Whippany River clean-up on March 23.

Intrepid Sergeant Rawa wrestled a rusty, 12-foot ladder out of the river, a tributary of the Rockaway River that attracts fishermen throughout the year.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Morris County Freeholder Douglas Cabana and state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco stopped by to thank all the litter collectors who had gathered by the river behind Bethel A.M.E. Church for the event held annually by the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee.

Morris County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Walter Rawa
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Walter Rawa managed to dislodge a faded red ladder that was partially embedded in the muddy bottom of the Whippany River in Morristown on March 23, 2019.

Bethel A.M.E. Pastor, Rev. Sidney Williams, blessed the group before they ventured out. The Morristown Department of Public Works contributed to the beautification by picking up the mounds of bags of collected litter.

Sheriff's Office Explorers at Whippany River cleanup
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 140 Members Chris Primamore, left, and Steven Fasano, help beautify the banks and surrounding area of the Whippany River during the annual Whippany River cleanup on March 23, 2019.