Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Feds say Cumberland jail failed to provide mental health screening, drug treatment
top story
CUMBERLAND COUNTY

Feds say Cumberland jail failed to provide mental health screening, drug treatment

{{featured_button_text}}
Cumberland County Jail's body Scanner

The Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton

The Cumberland County jail failed to take measures to prevent inmate suicides and provide adequate mental health care, federal authorities said Thursday.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey concluded there is reasonable cause to believe the facility failed to screen for or provide adequate mental health treatment to inmates at risk of self-harm and suicide, in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Inmates faced a heightened risk of self-harm and suicide due to the jail’s failure to provide medication-assisted treatment, where clinically indicated, to inmates experiencing unmedicated opiate withdrawal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

County Commissioners Joseph Derella and Jack Surrency could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

By providing medication-assisted treatment to inmates experiencing withdrawal, officials at jails and prisons can take significant steps to both combat the opiate epidemic and protect the constitutional rights of prisoners, U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.

Support Local Journalism

Your subscription makes our reporting possible.
{{featured_button_text}}

“We have been encouraged by the cooperation of Cumberland County jail officials throughout our investigation and their stated commitment to ensure the safety and constitutional rights of their inmates,” Honig said.

Although the jail recently began providing medication-assisted treatment, the funding for future treatment remains uncertain, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

As required by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, the Justice Department provided the facility with written notice of the supporting facts for these alleged violations and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address them, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities initiated the investigation in June 2018 under CRIPA, which authorizes the Department of Justice to take action to address a pattern or practice of deprivation of constitutional rights of individuals confined to state or local government-run correctional facilities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Surrency last month called for the resignation of Smith, citing “failed leadership” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the jail.

It was reported Dec. 5 that at least 61 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the jail, including 50 inmates and 11 corrections officers. The jail typically houses 300 inmates.

Lawmakers have asked the state to intervene at the jail. The state Department of Corrections was expected to inspect the facility.

Jail employees and county officials are battling over plans to close the facility permanently and move inmates to other jails, including those in Atlantic and Burlington counties.

Contact: 609-272-7202

VJackson@pressofac.com

Twitter@ACPressJackson

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.

LEARN MORE

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News