Call to Action: Helping Immigrants in Essex County

Protesters have targeted the Essex County Correctional Facility, which holds about 800 people who have been arrested on immigration charges. Photo credit: Mel Evans/Associated Press

Protesters at the Essex County Correctional Facility. Photo credit: Mel Evans/Associated Press

Dear Friends:
I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. I am writing to let you know about two social actions you can take to help immigrants in Essex County.

1) Join Faith in Essex on 10/23 at 7pm at the Newark Hall of Records for the Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting to insist on ACLU-endorsed civilian oversight for Essex County Correctional Facility. This is a very important meeting where I believe the ordinance for the civilian oversight board that the ACLU is recommending will be introduced.

Please let me know (email hidden; JavaScript is required) if you plan to go to the Freeholders meeting and if so, let’s work in car pooling.

2) Send the email below to County Executive Joseph D. Vincenzo and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Also, here is a NY Times article regarding the issue in Essex County and the contract with ICE to incarcerate undocumented people.
Thanks so much.

Suggested Email Script to County Executive Joseph D. Vincenzo and the Board of Chosen Freeholders

Subject: ECCF Civilian Oversight

Dear County Executive DiVincenzo, President Gill, and Board of Chosen Freeholders,

As a person of faith and citizen of Essex County, I insist that County Freeholders establish an oversight board for the Essex County Correctional Facility. 

In light of recent reports of sexual and physical abuse, egregious food safety violations, and other serious problems at ECCF, the need for community oversight is urgent. An independent and permanent community oversight board is essential to providing accountability and restoring trust between county leadership and the broader Essex County community.

The oversight board must have broad jurisdiction. 

The oversight board must have the power to review and issue recommendations on all matters that affect the health, safety, or basic rights of people in ECCF. The county must not place time limits on initiating board review, nor impose other arbitrary constraints that would prevent oversight.

The oversight board must issue reports that are available to the public. 

Providing public reporting and transparency through the oversight board will empower members of the public with a meaningful role in the oversight process. All reports must be posted online and made accessible to the public, with any redactions necessary to protect individual privacy.

The oversight board must have broad access to ECCF records and facilities. 

The board must be equipped with all of the necessary resources to fulfill its oversight of ECCF, including full access to all relevant records, permission to make unannounced visits to the facility, and the ability to interview all people held at the facility, including immigration detainees.

The oversight board’s appointment process must be driven by community groups and the public. 

To ensure that the board is responsive to the community, community organizations with relevant expertise should nominate oversight board members. The board must include at least one person who has experienced detention or incarceration, as well as experts on medical care, the rights of criminal defendants, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, and rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

There must be a way for the board to receive individual complaints. 

People inside ECCF and third parties must be permitted to file complaints with the board, including anonymously, and the Board must be empowered to independently investigate individual complaints, with respect to both individual incidents and systemic problems.

The oversight board must have a sufficient budget that allows for full staffing. 

The ordinance must ensure that the county invests in a dedicated staff and budget for the board.

We are hopeful that in establishing an oversight board that adheres to the ACLU-NJ’s proposal, Essex County may become a model for the rest of the country.


Contact information for County Executive DiVincenzo and Freeholders

Joseph DiVincenzo, County Executive:
973-621-4400 / email hidden; JavaScript is required

Brendan Gill, President, at-large:
973-621-4479 /

Patricia Sebold, at-large: 973-621-4484 /

Rufus Johnson, at-large: 973-621-4483 /

Romaine Graham, at-large: 973-621-5680 /

Robert Mercado, District 1 (Newark: North Ward, East Ward, parts of Central, South & West Wards)
973-621-4477 /

Wayne Richardson, District 2 (Newark: parts of South & Central wards; Irvington; Maplewood)
973-621-6457 /

Tyshammie Cooper, District 3 (Newark: part of West Ward; East Orange, Orange and South Orange)
973-621-4473 /

Leonard Luciano, District 4 (Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Millburn, Roseland, Verona, W. Caldwell and W. Orange)
973-621-4481 /

Carlos Pomares, District 5 (Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair, Nutley)
973-621-4467 /

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One thought on “Call to Action: Helping Immigrants in Essex County

  1. A noble and admirable effort. I tried to email the Freeholders and the County Executive by clicking on the links provided, but they do not seem to work.

What do you think?