NEWARK - Newark City Council was apparently not informed of the city's plan to let a brand new city jail sit vacant, a decision one councilman calls "inappropriate to say the least."
"For them to make a decision like this and not inform everyone, I think there are some answers that need to come forward," Councilman Augusto Amador tells Kane In Your Corner. Off camera, other council members or their staffs said they too were also unaware that the Newark Police Department had opted not to use the new jail, built in 2011 at taxpayer expense.
Prisoners and police assigned to jail duty are still being sent to the old lockup on Green Street, which is so dilapidated that it was originally ordered to close back in the 1980s. Yesterday, Kane In Your Corner reported the city appears to have no intention of ever using the new jail. According to a footnote in last week's U.S. Department of Justice report on the Newark Police Department, "the NPD recently informed (us) that it will not be moving operations to the (new) facility." The Justice Department characterizes that as a simple "change of plans" by Newark police.
Since last week, Kane In Your Corner has made repeated phone calls and emails asking the Newark mayor's office and the Newark Police Department why it chose to build a new jail and then not use it. None of those calls have been returned. Jim Stewart, president of Newark's largest police union, says that is unacceptable.
"There comes a point where you just have to say, 'This is not the way it's supposed to be.' Somebody needs to answer for it and somebody needs to be held accountable," Stewart says.