Jail is ‘rotten profiting’

The recent editorial in the Newark Star-Ledger entitled “Jail Run by Democrats Is Even Too Cruel for ICE” is a deservedly scathing indictment of both the immigrant detention system in Essex County and county Democratic Party officeholders led by Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

In a report, the OIG (Office of Inspector General) for ICE (U.S. Immigrants and Customs Enforcement) found egregious violations of conditions at the Essex County Correctional Facility. These included slimy lunch meat, moldy showers, strip searching, handcuffing of immigrants for no reason and throwing them into solitary without so much as a hearing. Keep in mind these immigrants are in civil, not criminal detention while awaiting hearings.

Their treatment by the state is a gross violation of their civil rights.

While the county makes tens of millions of profit in running the facility they also profess to oppose President DonaldTrump’s cruelty. And what about DiVincenzo’s repeatedly assuring us that this jail is America’s finest? Or that days after the OIG report Phil Alagia, DiVincenzo’s right-hand man told us we had by far the best correctional facility in the state of New Jersey and the United States of America? Really?

At present, there is no plan for independent inspections of the facility or an investigation by the State Attorney General. The State Legislature has not called for any action to be taken. What about the county freeholders, or Sen. Corey Booker, a major critic of the administration on immigration issues? We have heard nothing. Republican politicians have not made their views known either.

Governor Phil Murphy, who has allocated $2.1 million in taxpayer money to groups to provide legal help to undocumented immigrants facing detention has also been silent on the subject of the findings of the OIG report. One would think Murphy, a critic of the Trump administration on immigration issues would formulate a plan or take some kind of action.
That nothing has been or is being done to rectify the situation seems to me to expose some horribly cynical collusion on the part of our elected officials in Essex County and statewide. Can we really condone a jail in Essex County that’s so rotten or a political system that silently profits from it?

ARTHUR PORTNOY

Montclair

 

Say no to ICE’s money

We’re participating in something that most of us want no part of — and many of us don’t even know it.

Far away, at the border, children are being warehoused in overcrowded cells, dirty and malnourished, without adult supervision. A lawyer who has visited detainees for many years called what she saw “the worst conditions I have ever witnessed.”

Like it or not, we in Essex County are playing a part in this national disgrace. Since 2011, the correctional facility in Newark has been housing immigration detainees. In return, we now get $117 per detainee per day.

A few weeks ago, Homeland Security’s inspector general released a report about four facilities that had seriously violated standards for housing detainees. In Newark, unannounced inspections found, among other things, “spoiled and moldy food in kitchen refrigerators, as well as food past its expiration date… open packages of raw chicken [that] leaked blood all over refrigeration units”; inappropriate use of disciplinary segregation and strip searches; and bathrooms with “mold and peeling paint on walls, floors, and showers, and unusable toilets.”

The violations have supposedly been addressed, but the county’s record doesn’t inspire confidence. We seem to be happy to take ICE’s money, but not to spend it as intended.
Even if you support the President (though only 20 percent of Essex County residents voted for him), these facts should trouble you. Reasonable people can disagree about immigration policy, but no good argument can be made for treating people the way they’re being treated at the border, or the way we’ve treated them in Newark.

Why are we participating in the President’s barbaric and ineffective approach to border security? Because the money is too sweet to resist, apparently. Last year ICE gave us $35.6 million. It eases our county tax burden, but it puts a different kind of burden on us all: we’re complicit in one of the worst disgraces in our nation’s history.

I’d like to see us turn the money down, as many other local governments have done, and firmly state that we refuse to collaborate with this administration’s vicious policies. It’s a more honorable choice than holding out our hands and profiting from other people’s misery. And our example might inspire others to follow suit.

Our freeholders have shown no inclination to cancel the ICE contract. If they can’t bear to part with that money, then they have a moral obligation to spend it properly, and to keep a closer watch on what goes on at the jail.

Many of us feel powerless to stop the pain our government has chosen to inflict on people fleeing poverty and violence—people who came here, like our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, because they hoped for a better life. But here’s something specific you can do: let your freeholder know you’d like the county to cancel its contract with ICE, because we shouldn’t be collaborating with a brutal, wrong-headed policy.

Montclair’s freeholder is Carlos Pomares, 973-621-4467. If enough of us call, they may change their minds.

Let’s do what we can to interrupt this outrage.

MICHAEL LASER

Montclair

 

If you build it, they will come…

They will come, but where are they going to park? I’m happy that a grocery store will be coming to Lackawanna Plaza, however, the idea of valet parking to go to a grocery store is an added expense and can be avoided by increasing, not decreasing the number of parking spots.

I’m so happy that many more shops and restaurants are opening the MID center. However, I always hear the same complaint about parking.

Generally parking in Montclair is a nightmare now. With all the new development going on in the town and the number of parking lots decreasing, it will be almost impossible to park. That coupled with all the parking restrictions, it is not welcoming to anyone coming into town to partake of the many amenities our town has to offer. It is sad that after experiencing a wonderful day in Montclair, to go back to your car and see a parking ticket. People leave on a very negative note.

Maybe it’s time to revisit overnight parking and the two-hour parking restrictions throughout the town. You can’t go to the movies and have lunch or attend a lecture or class at the library in two hours. Why not look at the possibility of raising the time limit to three hours. Allow overnight parking on some of the streets?

JOANNE CIERVO

Montclair

 

Survival guide for drivers

Before you drive, make sure the safety equipment on your car is operating properly. Verify that the brakes are working properly, that you can see out the windows, and that you can see the rearview mirror and the mirrors on both sides of the car. Be sure your turn signals and brake lights are working. Check that the tires are properly inflated and in good condition because the tires are your car’s only contact with the road.

If you need to back out of a parking space, back slowly and cautiously because the view to the rear is not as good as the view forward.

Allow extra time for your trip because hurrying causes accidents. Driving under a light rain or over leaves in the fall is especially hazardous.

Signal all changes in lane or direction of your car in advance. Pay attention to traffic signals and the signals of other drivers. Allow extra space for other drivers; it can make the difference between a collision or not. Yielding the right of way is preferable to being in an accident.

If your vehicle has a break-down, get off the road or as far to the right as you can and put on the emergency flashers. If you must step out of the car on the side of the traffic, watch carefully for traffic before you open the driver’s door; the left side and rear mirrors can be very useful.

If you see the amber lights flashing at a marked crosswalk, slow down and be prepared to stop. If you see a car stopped by a pedestrian crosswalk, assume it is waiting for a pedestrian; do not pass it.

By doing these things, you may avoid injury to yourself, your car, or another person – or all of these.

This advice is offered by someone who has been driving 65 years and whose first word was car.

FRED CHICHESTER

Montclair