Newark, NJ – Former NJ Governor James McGreevey has been appointed Chairman of the Essex County Civilian Task Force, it was announced Thursday. McGreevey is the first appointment to the Task Force, which will work with the administration of the Essex County Correctional Facility to address systematic issues at the facility.
“We are pleased to announce Governor McGreevey as Chairman of the Civilian Task Force and honored that he has made himself available to serve in this volunteer role,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said. “Jim has a solid record of helping inmates transition back into the community after they are released and has been a strong advocate for rights of those being held in our jails. With his leadership experience and knowledge of our criminal justice system, he is extremely qualified to lead our new Task Force,” he added.
“Former Governor McGreevy is an excellent choice to head the prison task force. This is an important position, which will set a precedence for this type of administration. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from the New Jersey Re-entry Corporation (NJRC) and we anticipate a positive impact on future outcomes,” Freeholder President Brendan W. Gill said.
The Civilian Task Force, which was proposed by DiVincenzo and approved by the Freeholders, is autonomous of County government. It will have the authority to inspect the Essex County Correctional Facility, interview corrections officers and inmates/detainees, and review systematic issues and concerns. The intent of the task force is to provide transparency and accountability” of the ECCF staff, to protect the “lives, health, safety and rights of all people confined at the ECCF” and ensure the “conditions of their confinement are safe, sanitary, respectful and humane,” according to language in the ordinance that was adopted in December 2019.
In November, the County appointed former Federal Judge Jose Linares as Executive Director of the Task Force. In this capacity, Linares will collaborate with the County to nominate the other members, establish the by-laws of the task force and provide administrative support to the Task Force.
In the coming weeks, McGreevey, Linares and representatives from the County Administration and Board of Freeholders will interview candidates for positions on the Task Force. The nine-member volunteer board will be comprised of a representative from a recognized detained advocacy group, a representative from a recognized inmate advocacy group, a member who is in good standing with the Criminal Defense Bar, a corrections expert, an individual who was formerly incarcerated, a social justice advocate, an expert in the medical field and one member of the public. All members and the Executive Director are nominated by the County Executive with advice and consent of the Freeholder Board. Essex County solicited resumes from members of the public who were interested in serving on the Task Force; the deadline was January 17th.
McGreevey has been a staunch advocate of prison re-entry programs and helping former inmates seeking rehabilitation. He leads the NJ Reentry Corporation and has volunteered at Exodus Transitional Community at the Church of Living Hope in New York City and at Integrity House at the Hudson County Correctional Facility. McGreevey also served as the head of Jersey City’s Employment & Training Program. He is a former New Jersey Governor, State Assemblyman and Woodbridge Mayor.