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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Brown Ends CEC Contract at Jail

Northampton County has ended a controversial program intended to treat jail inmates like human beings instead of animals. The goal was to reduce the number of people returning to jail, But it would cost as much as $5.5 million over the next five years.

This contract was one of the last things that John Stoffa pushed through Council before leaving office.  He argued the contract could be canceled if unsatisfactory to the incoming Council. Lamont McClure was the sole dissenter. But this year, he managed to turn the entire council around o n the basis of an audit that showed the program was not as effective as it had been represented to be.

This program was also unpopular with corrections officers, although i unfamiliar with all of their objections.

Council jumped at the opportunity to cut this line item from the budget in 2015. Inmates, and their needs, are pretty low priority to most members of council. By being assholes to these unfortunates, most of whom are victims themselves, Council members can portray themselves as tough and fiscally responsible and all that good stuff.

When Council decided to eliminate these treatments programs from the budget in a 6-3 vote with only Ferraro, Benol and Geissinger opposed], they inserted nothing to take their place. Now, instead of there being some treatment that may be less effective than represented, there'll be none.

John Brown had no strong objections to getting rid of CEC. His only concern was putting something else in place, but Council would rather have the money.

The Executive has sent a memo to President Judge Baratta advising him of the contract's termination, effective January 16. Though a mental health court is in the works, the caseload proposed for that is much smaller than what was being provided by CEC.

CEC also provided treatment for female inmates.

Council members seem to think there's a vast pool of volunteers just pining away to spend their time the jail. But they're wrong. What is out there are predators, wolves in sheep's clothing who will strip away anything that's left of these inmates after their release. I've seen it and so have some of my readers.

This was a bipartisan mistake. This elimination was opposed by Peg Ferraro, Glenn Geissinger and Mat Benol.  But nobody gives a shit about inmates until it's someone you know or love.

Post Script: Executive John Brown could use a few courses in the proper way to address a judge. Instead of firing off a memo to Stephen G. Baratta, P.J., the proper way to refer to a jurist is as Hon. Stephen G. Baratta, President Judge..Considering what the taxpayers are spending for public relations, you'd think he'd at least try to get it right. If Baratta were to write to Brown, you can rest assured that he would refer to him as Hon. John Brown. His office deserves that form of respect, and Judge Baratta knows that much. John Brown should never send any form of correspondence to a judge, the District Attorney and even the Controller, without an indication of respect for the office.

This is a small matter, but this is one reason why his Administration needs more educated people than high school grads.

Updated 12/24, 12:16 am.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good. It was a political gift and a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Good move

Anonymous said...

Stoffa's dream has ended. The concept was right but it was co-opted and corrupted by others. It could have worked if left alone to follow it's natural course. It was a volunteer program for those who wanted help with their addiction issues. It turned into a hammer in the hands of the courts and the jail administration. You can't make a person repent or reform. You have to want it..more than anything else. Sad day at the jail for those who desperately wanted help.

Anonymous said...

Addiction leads to crime, fact. Punishing addicts committing crimes does not discourage other addicts or the punished addict so long as they remain addicted, fact. Recovering/cured addicts reoffend at a much much lower rate, fact.

Not to say we shouldn't punish addicts but it cannot be the only component.

This is the short sighted thinking typical of Brown. It will be someone else's problem to clean up when Brown is not reelected and the recidivism rate rises. But, Brown looks good now and thats all that matter.

Anonymous said...

It was a flawed concept initiated in a flawed way and never fixed. If you don't plan well you can plan to fail. This was inevitable and was never implemented correctly. Concepts are meaningless if you can't execute them.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to tell inmates not to do drugs when they are in a controlled environment away from them. Everybody is clean in prison. The CEC program doesn't work because all counselors do is tell inmates how not to do drugs, but considering they are in a drug free environment away from the friends of theirs that are into drugs as well and they are away from their home life that might be immersed in drugs as well, the program just doesn't work. The program is great in theory, just not effective in practice.

Anonymous said...

This is the short sighted thinking typical of Brown.

Bullcrap. Brown actually wanted to keep the program and begged Council not to cut the funding until he had something to replace it with. Now it looks like the whole West Easton facility may close as well.

Sad day at the jail for those who desperately wanted help. Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Face it..the jail is last place people want to spend tax dollars. The lowest rung on the county ladder but it is mandated care! Wise up and fix it before the feds come in and condemn the place as a human rights violation. The place should be a museum not a place of incarceration.

Anonymous said...

The courts and the judges can fix this fairly quickly. Establish a drug court..reduce jail population..close the old part of the jail..use West Easton as minimum security area. It's not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

This reduced nothing and was an dreamy idea that made liblabs feel good but produced no real world results.

Come up with a real program that will actually work in the real world and not these stupid controlled environment social experiments.

Thank God it is one more silly government program that is gone. Next step is to privatize the prison.

Jacqueline R. Suarez said...

This is very sad news. I was an employee of CEC on day one when this program opened up. What is more disheartening is to see the public's comments about how elated they are to see one more "silly" program ended. I have to say in all honesty that this was a good program. It may not have helped all that went through those doors. But I know for a fact that it helped many. I have run into many of these men out in society and their words are, "If it wasn't for CEC I would be dead." These are individuals who were addicts for many years, and now managing their lives and the lives of their families in a very pro-social manner. Nobody sees the addict who turned their lives around and now own their own businesses, some who are now working as Drug & Alcohol Counselors at local shelters, the one who is completing his Master's in Business Administration, the one who ones their own business, and the list goes on. Instead they choose to look at the ones who didn't make it. But that's what the media has taught us to do, only look at the negative and glorify evil instead of good. The sad thing is that this program could have succeeded. One of the downfalls of this program was the leadership that was allowed to run the program the last couple of years. Poor decisions were made, very poor decisions. Poor decisions that led to the demise of this wonderful program. My heart breaks as this was once a wonderful program whose sole interest was to help those who were down and out in society. Another downfall was the retirement of Deputy Warden Michael Bateman. I can guarantee you if ex Deputy Warden Michael Bateman was still in his position, this would have never happened. Mr. Bateman sweated, toiled, and worked his behind off to ensure the success of this program. This is one of the saddest news in 2014.

Anonymous said...

Bateman had his own demons and succumbed to them. This was a joint effort of failure by many individuals behind that wall. They all have some blood on their hands. Don't blame JB for this one. Council spoke and he did what he had to do under those circumstances. He was willing to give it a shot. One of the few things he has done right is advance the drug court initiative in lieu of other treatment alternatives. The blame is on the jail and the courts for letting it happen.

Anonymous said...

West Easton will not close because of this set back. The place is just an extension of the jail already and is full of all types of inmates with various issues and crimes to their credit. It was convenient to call it a treatment center..now they can call it what it is..more jail space.

Anonymous said...

How dare you put down people who have "high school diplomas". Just because John Brown is an idiot and doesn't know proper protocol and lacks simple communication skills doesn't mean everyone who is a high school grad also lacks those skills.
Almost 100% of the clerks and other employees are high school educated and they all know how to address elected officials and "Judges". Brown should have caught that "salutary error" and corrected it immediately. He has a college education and he is not only an idiot, he is also a first class asshole.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Brown's nanny Kim reviewed all official communications. Or maybe it was the always eloquent Allen who prepared the Barratt's correspondence. Just another example of this administration's incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Lets be honest, CEC was a FOR PROFIT company whose number one goal was to make money not change lives. I'd like to hear Ms. Suarez comment on how CEC treats employees. This program failed because CEC puts profits over the needs of the residents of the program.

Anonymous said...

"the proper way to refer to a jurist is as Hon. Stephen G. Baratta, President Judge...If Baratta were to write to Brown, you can rest assured that he would refer to him as Hon. John Brown. His office deserves that form of respect, and Judge Baratta knows that much. John Brown should never send any form of correspondence to a judge, the District Attorney and even the Controller, without an indication of respect for the office."

Au contraire, mon frere O'Hare. No small matter you bring up. This is the essence of the government class (though its origins track to the earliest monarchs and emperors). Creating this silliness, thinking they've ascended to royalty and are deserving of extraordinary respect simply because they've accepted a job.

They put their names on a ballot, and begged us (and yes, campaigning is nothing more than begging, pleading and assailing their opponents) to allow them to work for us. And then they say, "Boss, now I'm bigger than life, and you will address me accordingly." How fucked up is that?

They, and their positions, deserve no more, nor any less, respect than any other citizen/vocation. Although, they'd easily get more respect if shit like this wasn't so important to government types. How do you respect someone, or their office, when they throw around empty terms of respect for the sake of protocol, especially when you know damn well they can't stand the sight of each other half the time?

Now, about programs and contracts: Is the secret circle jerk society at the JJC still under contract? If so, that might be another opportunity for council to evaluate cost/benefit.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

So I read somewhere that the program only cuts recidivism by 50% instead of 70%. If it only cuts recidivism by 30%, that's pretty damn good.

I would imagine that the rates for private treatment are roughly the same. People have relapses and that's part of the disease and working through the program.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to suffer from this, not just the people in treatment at the DUI Center, but those people who will be the victim of a future car crash, assault, break-in, etc. And you can all thank the Bickering Bickersons for their lack of foresight and excess of political vitriol.

Anonymous said...

Bernie you might want to lose the high school diploma remark, it is quite offensive to the county employees who only have a high school diploma but have an unlimited wealth of knowledge when it comes to county government.

Anonymous said...

And why all the hate for the HS grad crowd?

There are plenty of very successful business owners in the LV and, throughout this country, who made their bones the old fashioned way.

On the other hand:

Our schools are full of multi-degreed teachers and administrators who send emails home that say "Thank you for your patients", who do not know the meaning of words like "xenophobic", who have affairs with students, who cover up the cheating of the children of their own, assault students, get naked and smoke crack in their locked offices, and conduct themselves as union thugs demanding to be paid like other "professionals", while performance declines year after year.

Our governments are full of degreed individuals who can't figure out how to spend only what they bring in, create and fund ineffective feel good programs, embark on capital projects which never come in on budget, enrich their friends with our money, and judges who sentence kids for profit.

The president of my first employer had no college. He started out as a door-to-door salesman. At the time of his death, he had accomplished a bazillion times more, professionally and philanthropically, than any of the feeders-for-life alluded to above.

-Clem

Jacqueline R. Suarez said...

Anonymous @ 9:51
Yes, CEC Was a FOR PROFIT organization who treated their employees horrible!!! I am not denying that fact. What the sad thing was there was those employees who really cared about the guys.... I for one lasted their almost five years before I moved on. Wherever you go, whether its non profit or for profit you will find people that their only for the paychecks, or you will find those that truly and diligently love what they do, like myself. THE POINT IS THAT THERE ARE MANY WHO CHANGED AS A RESULT OF CEC, it may not have been the percentage being quoted appropriately to the council, nonetheless, there are fewer people out their doing drugs and alcohol and re-offending because of CEC, regardless if it was FOR PROFIT!

Jacqueline R. Suarez said...

To Anonymous at 6:54 am

Yes, Mr. Bateman had his demons, but let's be honest who doesn't? We all have our demons. The only difference is that Mr. Bateman kept his demons out of his career. Mr. Bateman left his personal life at the gates before he went in to work. Mr. Bateman was very professional and had a big heart for those that are hurting. It is extremely difficult to find a compassionate heart in the world of Corrections. Working there for many years can make someone very cold hearted and indifferent. They become calloused due to how they are treated and what they see behind bars. However, Mr. Bateman always remained with a loving and compassionate heart towards these men. I have witnessed many conversations he had with these guys, he truly was a man full of wisdom. No one can tell me that Mr. Bateman didn't make a difference at NCP.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jacqueline, Thanks for your insight. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

So now what happens with the Atiyeh lease in West Easton?? Is the County on the hook to pay that even though there is no program?? Or, does it now transform into a jail? West Easton was snookered in this deal. Will West Easton now be considered a prison town?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, I agree completely that many with college degrees are educated idiots. I have also seen some people with no high school diploma go very far. But if someone lacks a basic education, and has no real experience, that person should have next to know managerial responsibility in county government.

And seriously, Brown should not send correspondence to the President Judge without addressing him properly. I am offended by the lack of respect displayed there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"West Easton will not close because of this set back. The place is just an extension of the jail already and is full of all types of inmates with various issues and crimes to their credit. It was convenient to call it a treatment center..now they can call it what it is..more jail space."

This is basically a lie, and one I have checked several times. West Easton is for the DUIs and nonsupport cases. Nothing else. If the County slips someone else there, it violates its arrangement with Atiyeh and West Easton

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie you might want to lose the high school diploma remark, it is quite offensive to the county employees who only have a high school diploma but have an unlimited wealth of knowledge when it comes to county government."

Do you honestly think I give a shit what someone considers offensive? The fact is that someone who has no education and managerial experience should not be put in charge of 2,200 employees. It's not complicated. Also, y ou don't address a judge without a Hon. in front of his or her name.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a step backwards. Now what? Back to "Lock them up and throw away the key"?? Why end it when there's nothing in place? It will be interested to see if they even attempt to fill this program. I guess Money is more important than peoples lives. Today the County and Department of corrections have taken a step back. Atleast Mr. Stoffa had the insight into what corrections should be about and not base it on a dollar amount. County council should be embarrassed by believing in Mr. Mcclure. I don't know about most people but I'd rather have these released PEOPLE become productive in our community rather than re offending. What a shame.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, When someone puts his name on a ballot to get elected, he is running as a person. But once he or she is elected, the position that person holds demands respect. Thus, all correspondence to even the Exec should be addressed to Hon. John Brown. You respect the office, even if you despise the person.

Anonymous said...

Whoever is taking offense to Bernie's comment that people in these leadership positions should have more than a HS education - just look at Cathy Allen. She is exhibit A to back up his statement.

Hey not everyone needs a college degree - but in county administration - I want a higher level of education there. Shove your indignity back in your pocket.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How dare you put down people who have "high school diplomas". I'll put down any high school grad who has no experience and thinks she can run a 2,200-person operation.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

your comment is fine except for the personal reference to a council member's children. That is off limits.

Jacqueline R. Suarez said...

To anonymous at 1:46 pm

And just how are my hands not clean? I gave ammunition to McClure? Please explain...... Everything I spoke of in my comments are the truth. I was the individual who planned out all the graduation ceremonies, and I can tell you McClure was never there, while I was there for 4.5 years. Maybe he would see things differently when he heard these grown men speak, and sometimes weep like babies of how they had succumbed to a life of drugs, but now wanted to live a clean life. Now, did they all live a clean life when they got out? NO! But, again, I reiterate, more than few did. If one life was saved.... well it was worth it. Again, please tell me how I added ammunition. I am very interested.

Anonymous said...

CEC was a game and a sweet deal for the company, It was not effective and was dropped. The West Easton Facility is just an extension of the jail. Atiyeh does not care who goes there as long as he gets his check.

This was a game from day one. It was sugar coated to make everyone go all gaga.

Anonymous said...

Why call someone honorable when they have no honor? I certainly would not use that term with JB regardless of protocol. I agree with 10:04. Who cares!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Regardless what you think of the person, the office itself deserves respect.

Anonymous said...

Respect is earned, not given. That being said, it will take at least a generation to fix the political game of voting in hacks who act like the are above everyone else. I agree with a level of basic respect for all but honorable is a stretch for this county executive.

Anonymous said...

Bernie let me just clarify one thing, we currently have maximum and medium security inmates housed in west easton. The security levels are based on the classification system currently in use at the jail. Just a hypothetical example: my current active charge is a DUI, within the past 5 years or so I was convicted of aggravated assault and robbery (violent offenses) my custody score will most certainly be maximum or medium custody level but because my current charge is only a DUI I would be housed in the West Easton facility.

Anonymous said...

So if no treatment going on then no treatment center. Will the people of west Easton want this place out out of their back yards now? Maybe before the prison tries to sneak others down there.

Anonymous said...

Thought the same thing lol. Should be interesting

Bernie O'Hare said...

There goes crazy Mezzacappa

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas O'Hare, you crazy, filthy bastard!

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Merry Christmas.

S. Claus

Anonymous said...

MC to the BO!

Anonymous said...

Will someone spell Kathy correctly. Idiots.

Anonymous said...

Got it. That's Kathy with a "K", and Crony with a "C"...

Merry Christmas, Ramblers.

-Clem

Bernie O'Hare said...

You, too, Clem.

PRISONEMP said...

THE CEC AND WEST EASTON ARE JUST BEDS TO THE PRISON PROVIDING HELP IS NOT PART OF THE EQUATION

Anonymous said...

It appears that W. Easton will have a decision on their hands if treatment ends at that facility as it were under the CEC staffers. Will Atiyeh cut a new deal with them and the county?

Anonymous said...

Thanks prison employee for telling it like it is at West Easton.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Treatment will not end there, and it will remain a work release facility.

Anonymous said...

It is just great how the past exec. and the last two directors of corrections had told council that the return percentages were 69%, but when actually pressed on this issue they stated they did not know what the percentage rate was and that they never did a study and the 69% was just a national average, nice job of blowing smoke up the asses of council and the tax payers.

Anonymous said...

Be fair, the past executive said he "feels" it was still the nice thing to do.