A report issued by Human Rights First in late February highlighted continuing problems at the Hudson County Correctional Facility (HCCF) and other New Jersey jails that are holding federal immigration detainees.
Earlier in February, Human Rights First (HRF) researchers visited the three principal facilities that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to detain noncitizens in New Jersey: Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility, the Essex County Correctional Facility, and the Hudson County Correctional Facility.
A team of legal and health professionals joined HRF staff on these visits, which included tours of the facilities, meetings with ICE and facility staff, and individual and group interviews with over one hundred detained immigrants. According to their report, HRF found at the Hudson facility several detained individuals working in the kitchens who complained that the food carts, trays, and dishes are frequently left unwashed, and when cleaned, dirty water is used to wash them. Also, garbage and food waste often remain on the plates and trays.
The report said that individuals at all three facilities reported that food, particularly meat and rice, is often raw, spoiled, or expired.
The report went on to say that detainees at the Hudson facility said that certain officers allow only English programs on the television, that most work positions are offered to English speakers, and that officers may restrict phone usage depending on the race of the detainee.
Women at the Hudson facility complained about one officer who verbally assaults certain women and even restricts certain women from using the phone to call their attorneys, something that all detainees should have unrestricted access to.
The report said that the Hudson facility has a high number of individuals with serious mental health concerns, as demonstrated by the three suicides that have occurred at the facility since January 2016 and 12 mental health hospitalizations in six months.
The Hudson facility utilizes medical isolation rooms to house detained individuals placed on suicide watch. While on suicide watch, a detainee remains in his or her cell for 23 hours per day and is not permitted to have personal items, books, or magazines in the cell. The facility implemented new policies in an effort to respond to the three suicides since 2016.
Hudson County has instituted a number of programs to address these issues, but the report appears to confirm that problems at the facility still exist.
Two more top JC officials leave
Among the many changes marking Mayor Steven Fulop’s second term, two more key city officials are leaving city government.
Business Administrator Bob Kakoleski has taken a job as Rutherford’s borough administrator. David Donnelly, director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, has returned to a family-owned business in Texas.
City officials said that assistants in both departments will do their work temporarily until their replacements can be found.
These are the latest in a series of changes that include the reassignment of Corporation Counsel Jeremy Farrell to the Municipal Utility Authority and the reassignment of two deputy mayors. The city has also recently named a new recreation director, new fire chief, new police chief as well as other position changes.
What happened at 111 First St.?
David Goodwin, author of “The Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 First Street,” will appear at Little City Books, 100 Bloomfield St. in Hoboken, on March 7 at 7 p.m.
The book embraces art, real estate, development, the life and culture of a city, and also lots of drama, as you might expect from Hudson County politicians.
In the late 1980s, a handful of artists priced out of Manhattan and desperately needing affordable studio space discovered 111 First St., a former P. Lorillard Tobacco Company warehouse. Over the next two decades, an eclectic collection of painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and writers dreamt and toiled within the building’s labyrinthine halls. The local arts scene flourished, igniting hope that Jersey City would emerge as the next grassroots center of the art world.
However, a rising real estate market coupled with a provincial political establishment threatened the community at 111 First St. The artists found themselves entangled in a long, complicated, and vicious fight for their place in the building and for the physical survival of 111 First Street itself, a site that held so much potential, so much promise for Jersey City. “Left Bank of the Hudson” offers a window into the demographic, political, and socio-economic changes experienced by Jersey City during the last thirty years.
Goodwin’s book is seen as a well-documented narrative about the role artists play in economically improving cities.
JC to hold emissions audit
Mayor Steven M. Fulop signed a letter of commitment on Feb. 27 officially joining the City of Jersey City to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. With this commitment, Jersey City joins thousands of other cities across the globe in committing to aggressive, measurable action to address global climate change. As part of the Global Covenant of Mayors, Jersey City will conduct a thorough, city-wide greenhouse gas inventory, set public emissions targets, and develop a comprehensive plan to meet those targets.
“Last year, I signed the Mayors Climate Commitment to uphold the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement, after President Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal. This year I am honoring that pledge by committing to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy as the next step in our mission to address climate change on a local level,” said Mayor Fulop. “At a time of federal inaction, it is up to city and local governments to fill the void. As a coastal city, Jersey City is threatened by climate change and it is time for us to take decisive action to improve our sustainability and protect our environment.”
This commitment coincides with the launch of the City’s new Office of Sustainability, which will be dedicated to finding ways to improve the sustainability of the City’s operations, raise public awareness of sustainable practices, and implement policies across areas such as water, energy, transit, and development. The Office will be tasked with leading the Global Covenant of Mayors process for Jersey City.
Little City presents ‘Read Across America’ Seuss-themed morning in the bookshop
On Sunday, March 4 at 11 a.m., Little City Books, 100 Bloomfield St. in Hoboken, presents free for kids of all ages the Garden Street School of the Performing Arts cast of “SEUSSICAL”.
They will perform selections from the show in the bookshop. The cast will be on hand to buddy up and read to the children after the performance. Seuss swag, activities, and photo props and opps are all included. Children of all ages are welcome!
For more information call (201) 626-7323 or visit littlecitybooks.com.
NAMI offers program for caregivers
NAMI Family-to-Family is a 12-week education program designed for caregivers having an adult family member living with a mental illness. The program fosters learning, healing and empowerment among caregivers and has been described by some as “a journey of hope” and by many others as “a life changing experience. Classes will meet April 5 through June 21 at Christ Hospital, 176 Palisade Ave., Jersey City, every Thursday evening 6:30 – 9 p.m. Participation is available on a first come basis and free parking is available.
To register please contact Carmen at (201) 310-5828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Dana at (347) 729-3966 or email at email@example.com.
Register early. Space is limited.
City complies with lawsuit settlement on West Street development
After taking its legal case to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the City Council voted on Feb. 28 to comply with a lower court that would vacate a portion of West Street to accommodate a new development project near Journal Square.
The city attempted to reverse a 2012 settlement agreement that would allow a portion of West Street off Magnolia Avenue to be used for the construction of 42-story tower.
Councilman Richard Boggiano spoke against the council move, vowing to continue the fight. He said the development had no place in a neighborhood that was largely made up of one and two family homes.
The vote comes after Hudson County Superior Court ordered the city to vacate the street. Although other council members said they were also opposed to the move, to not comply would put the city in contempt of court.
Jersey City Library March events
Jersey City Public Library will hold a number of events in the month of March.
Five Corners will present Sayantani DasGupta, author of “The Serpent’s Secret,” a new middle-grade novel that’s based on Bengali folktales on Saturday, March 3 at 1 p.m.
Test your knowledge of women’s history at West Bergen this month, and win prizes at our annual Women’s History Month Contest (Mon., Mar. 5 – Thurs., Mar. 29).
The Heights Branch will host local veterinarian Julie Jones who will present Pet First Aid on Thursday March 8, at 6 p.m.
Those living with or caring for those with hepatitis will have a chance to learn about different types of the disease and ask questions at a special Viral Hepatitis Learning Workshop presented by certified HCV educator Elena Bradshaw at the Miller Branch on Saturday, March. 10 at 11 a.m.
The Greenville Library will host Misty Copeland, who made history as the first African-American principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, on Saturday March 17 at 2 p.m.
Enjoy a special St. Patrick’s Day Celebration that’s all about Irish geography, culture, and food (Heights, Sat., March 17, 3 p.m.), and lots of St. Patrick’s Day Crafts (Bonetti, Cunningham, Greenville, Lafayette, Pavonia, West Bergen branches).
For more information and directions go to: www.jclibrary.org.
The HCCC Department of Cultural Affairs has a number of events coming up. Independent female filmmakers will also be celebrated in a series of films being presented from March 2 to April 28 by the Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with director Delaney Buffett.
This is an all-star lineup of short films by female filmmakers which will be screened at the Dineen Hull Gallery Atrium.
Film shorts include “First Match,” “Kid Warrior: The Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Story,” “New Deep South: Kayla,” “Run Mama Run” and “The Spring.” For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org