In 2008, the ACLU-NJ and Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Social Justice filed a class-action lawsuit against Passaic County for unconstitutional conditions at the notorious Passaic County Jail. The suit was filed on behalf of pretrial detainees - people who have been arrested but not yet tried or convicted - and inmates awaiting sentencing who have suffered from overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions. The complaint alleges that the jail, designed to hold 896 inmates, routinely squeezed in more than 1,700 through revenue-generating contracts with other agencies. The complaint details the deplorable living conditions faced by inmates, as well as the dangerous facility conditions (such as inoperable fire safety systems) that put inmates, staff, and the community at risk. The lawsuit also claims that the state Commissioner of Corrections failed to meet his responsibility of enforcing state laws that set minimum standards for counties to operate jails.
In 2012, the parties entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement that resulted in the court appointing a monitoring team to oversee changes to the jail regarding its medical and mental health care, correctional management, fire safety and environmental conditions over a five year period, expiring in April 2017. The agreement was extended a year to continue monitoring the provision of medical care at the jail.
- Passaic County, CSJ and ACLU-NJ Joint Statement on Settlement (8 KB pdf)
- Colon: Complaint (2.1 MB pdf)
- Colon: Class Certification Brief (1.5 MB pdf)
- Colon: District Court Opinion (56 KB pdf)
- Colon v. Passaic County - Timeline (452 KB pdf)