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New Jersey Taxpayers Underwrite Unqualified, Unnecessary Prison Employees

The New Jersey prison system is infested with parasitic employees--thrust upon the department by legislators and the governor's office--who bleed state taxpayers for more than $850,000 a year, Department of Corrections (DOC) commissioner Devon Brown has admitted.

The revelation came during a May 3, 2005, meeting of the Assembly Budget Committee as lawmakers grilled Brown about department spending, including free housing for some DOC officials. During the meeting, Brown told committee members the DOC has unwanted political patronage employees whose salaries total $867,000. Portrayed as unqualified" and unnecessary," Democratic Assemblyman Louis Greenwald asked for specific names.
Brown later provided a list of 14 employees. Most were reportedly hired after former governor James McGreevey took office in 2001, but one was identified by DOC spokesman Matt Schuman as having been hired in September 1996. The employees on the list held jobs ranging from chaplain and welder to assistant superintendent and division director, said Schuman. Their salaries ranged from $33,515 to $99,813 a year. After the meeting, committee Republicans called for acting Democratic Governor Richard Codey to investigate patronage in state agencies.

An official in Codey's administration said none of the employees on Brown's list came through his office.

Brown had attended the hearing to defend the DOC's proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2005-06. The department wants $914 million for services and $753 million for prison operations, both up about 1% from the current fiscal year.

Legislators also questioned the rationale of providing free housing for some department bigwigs. Why should they be any different from other individuals who work for the state, and why should they be in housing," asked Republican Assemblyman Joseph Malone. The DOC owns nine such houses adjacent to state prisons. I would seriously request that you seriously look at the absolute need to have these houses," Malone said.


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