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11/3/2023 - Cumberland County Settles Strip Search Lawsuit

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cumberland County Settles Strip Search Lawsuit

Nov. 3, 2023

Bridgeton, NJ- Cumberland County Administration has settled the lawsuit Parrish, et.al. vs. Cumberland County, Law Division Docket CUM-L-293-20. The suit has been resolved by the County’s insurance company on terms and condition that the current County Administration will honor.

Commission Director Douglas Albrecht states “since the Republican majority Board has taken office in January 2023, we have consistently and diligently worked as one board, to resolve the numerous legal matters that we inherited from the prior long-term Democrat controlled County Government. I am glad that this matter has been resolved both as to the victims and their families and as to the taxpayers of Cumberland County, who have footed the bill to the tune of millions of dollars of legal fees based on alleged mistakes made in the past.”

Current Cumberland County Administrator Hal Johnson, who enjoys almost 40 years of legal experience states “one of the things that surprised me when I began this job was the amount of costly litigation related to action or inaction of prior County leadership. The great majority of this litigation involves allegations of improper operation of the Cumberland County Jail, allegations of improper behavior of County Jail management or employees and the actions caused by the failed jail construction project which have cost the County millions of dollars of legal fees and other costs. This Administration from the beginning of 2023 has been tasked to resolve these matters expeditiously and as fairly to the County taxpayers and litigants and their families as possible.”

Examples of the legal actions include this matter involving strip searches now settled, a federal class action suit alleging improper conditions in the County Jail during the Pandemic 2020 - 2022, an action by the United States Department of Justice due to the number of suicides in the Cumberland County Jail prior to 2019, an action by the New Jersey State Public Defender opposing the then County Government’s plan to house Cumberland County inmates in the Hudson Corrections Facility, and a lawsuit by an energy company based on a contract that the then County Government improperly entered has caused significant legal fees and could cause the County to incur a significant cost to resolve.

In addition, there are at least 40 other legal actions arising from the situations described above by individual inmates, their families and County employees that must be defended at significant cost and expense to Cumberland County.

The current County Commissioner Board has and will continue to support evaluation and implementation of policies and procedures to minimize the possibility of litigation. Additionally, we maintain an open and transparent environment to allow input from employees, community partners and County residents. If and when litigation is necessary, the Commissioner Board will attempt to resolve all such actions in a financially responsible manner fair to all involved as being in the best interests of Cumberland County taxpayers.