Codey Calls For Statewide Inspection Of Halfway Houses In Light Of Yesterday’s Fire

TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today called on the Department of Community Affairs to inspect all state-contracted halfway houses operating within New Jersey’s Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) in light of yesterday’s tragic fire in Toms River that killed one resident. It was later revealed that the number of residents living in the halfway house was double the legal maximum occupancy limit.

“It appears that the contractor at issue here jeopardized the safety of residents by blatantly violating the occupancy limits for this particular house,” said Codey. “This is an egregious violation that ultimately resulted in the tragic loss of a life. As a state, we need to be more proactive to ensure that these outside contractors are following the laws designed to protect the welfare of those under our supervision. To that end, I’ve asked the state Department of Community Affairs to conduct an inspection of all halfway houses within the Intensive Supervision Program to ensure that they are in code compliance.”

A full copy of Sen. Codey’s letter is included below:

August 6, 2009

Acting Commissioner Charles A. Richman

NJ Department of Community Affairs

101 South Broad Street

PO Box 800

Trenton, NJ 08625-0800

Dear Commissioner Richman:

Yesterday’s tragic fire at a halfway house in Toms River, operated by a state-contracted agency, shed light on a clear lack of oversight within New Jersey’s Intensive Supervision Program (ISP). According to published reports, the house in question, operated by Bright New Horizons, housed twice as many residents than the maximum occupancy limit permitted.

In light of the fact that the Intensive Supervision Program has never previously required contractors to provide a Certificate of Occupancy, I think it’s only prudent that a statewide inspection be conducted to make sure each house in this program has a valid Certificate of Occupancy and that they are in compliance with the required residency limits.

Therefore, at this time, I request that your department conduct such inspections to ensure that we do not repeat this tragic incident. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Codey

Senate President

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