Charles to head Union County Jail, lead ongoing reforms

Ron Charles
Ron Charles

WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange’s Ron Charles, who serves as president of the West Orange Board of Education, has been hired as the new director of the Union County Department of Corrections, Union County officials announced recently.
Charles is a former associate director of the Essex County Department of Corrections, the state’s largest county correctional facility, and has also served in senior level executive positions at Delaney Hall, a private facility.

Charles was hired following a nationwide search conducted by Union County after the retirement of former Director Brian Riordan, who left in July after seven years. During the interim period, Assistant Director George Blaskiewicz served as acting director.

According to county officials, Union County received more than 50 resumes during the job search, and narrowed the list to nearly a dozen finalists before selecting Charles.

“Ronald Charles has an outstanding record of public and private-level experience in corrections,” Union County Manager Alfred J. Faella said in a press release. “He has managed the administrative and fiscal operations of two major correctional facilities, and had his boots on the ground as a corrections officer for many years as well. We look forward to working with him.”

Charles, who already began his new job, is earning a salary of $115,000 per year. He is responsible for the supervision of a total staff of approximately 295 corrections officers and supervisors, 34 civilian employees, and a census count of approximately 720 prisoners, with another 40 under contract at Delaney Hall in Essex County.

Charles will work to continue many of the reforms currently under way at the facility. During the past eight years, Union County has focused on reducing its number of inmates at the jail by nearly 30 percent, resulting in operational efficiencies.

“There is still much to accomplish and there are many challenges before us, but I look forward to working with the county team in providing a safe, secure, productive and efficient facility,” Charles said in the release.

During a 29-year career in corrections, Charles, who started as an Essex County corrections officer, rose through the ranks meritoriously to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, associate warden and eventually associate director of the department in 2006, where, until his retirement in 2011, he was responsible for the supervision of more than 700 employees with an operating budget of more than $100 million. Among his other duties, he authored Requests for Proposal and contracts, and wrote a financial review process for the budget with department heads and administrative officials.