Sweeney – Consolidation Of Sex Offender Facilities Should Be Discussed Publicly

TRENTON – Senator Stephen M. Sweeney today grilled Department of Corrections Commissioner George Hayman about ongoing plans to consolidate several facilities holding civilly committed sex offenders into a single, large facility.

“My understanding is that it’s all but a done deal that these individuals will be moved to Southwood,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester. “Cumberland County already does its part, housing over a quarter of the prison population. We neither want nor can afford to have hundreds of committed sex offenders moved into the county.”

Commissioner Hayman confirmed that Southwood was one of the facilities being considered for the consolidation but claimed that a final decision on which prison will hold the sex offenders has not been made.

“I don’t understand why we are looking to move these inmates to begin with,” said Senator Sweeney. “We should look into building up the existing facilities rather than move these individuals into a new community.”

Senator Sweeney asked Commissioner Hayman to commit to getting public input before any final decision on the consolidation is made.

“The public needs a chance to weigh in on the decision. Nobody wants more sex offenders in their community, but it’s simply unacceptable to force this move onto a community without a chance to voice its opposition and suggest other options,” explained Senator Sweeney.