Essex County Correctional Facility policies, procedures to undergo independent review

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — On Monday, Dec. 6, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. announced a joint initiative with the Essex County Correctional Facility Civilian Task Force to review operating procedures at the Essex County Correctional Facility. The review will be undertaken by The Ambrose Group LLC, an independent management consulting organization led by retired Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose. The county executive and the task force are having the operation assessment done in response to recent incidents involving inmate altercations at the Essex County Correctional Facility.

“We have worked hard to earn accreditation from the American Correctional Association and provide a safe and secure environment at our correctional facility. We want to ensure that our policies and procedures are focused to allow us to operate our jail efficiently and safely,” DiVincenzo said. “We need a fresh set of eyes to review our policies and standards. In conjunction with Commissioner President Wayne Richardson, Penal Committee Chairman Commissioner Rufus Johnson and the Civilian Task Force, we are bringing in The Ambrose Group to review our procedures to make sure we continue to operate the correctional facility in a safe and effective manner.”

“The role of the civilian task force is to advocate for the inmates at the correctional facility and ensure they are being held in a safe environment. I am pleased to work with Essex County and The Ambrose Group on this proactive initiative to get an independent review of the facilities’ policies and standards,” said former N.J. Gov. James McGreevey, who chairs the civilian task force.

The Ambrose Group will conduct a comprehensive assessment of all correctional facility operations. It will review security, staffing roles and responsibilities of all employees from the time inmates enter the facility at intake to the time they are released. The Ambrose Group will also review all policies and if they are being adhered to. Labor unions and inmate groups will be interviewed as part of the assessment.

The professionals who will be conducting the assessment include, but are not limited to, Ambrose; Rick Fuentes, former New Jersey State Police superintendent; Gregory Ehire, former special agency in charge of the FBI for New Jersey; Darnell Henry, former chief of the Newark Police Division; and Gary Lanigan, former commissioner of the N.J. Department of Corrections. Thomas Scrivo, managing partner of O’Toole Scrivo LLC, serves as counsel to The Ambrose Group.

“The Ambrose Group consists of professionals who have spent their lifetimes in public safety and law enforcement. We thank the county executive and the civilian task force for giving us this opportunity to give a fresh look at the policies, procedures and operations of the correctional facility,” Ambrose said.

The Ambrose Group LLC was created by Ambrose, who retired as Newark public safety director in March 2021. Ambrose has more than 35 years of public safety experience, rising through the ranks of the Newark Police Department to become police chief and then public safety director. He also spent time as chief of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and worked for the Essex County Sheriff’s Office.

DiVincenzo noted that his administration and the ECCF officers and staff are fully cooperating with investigations by the N.J. Attorney General’s Office and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office into two inmate altercations that recently occurred at the ECCF.