ESSEX COUNTY CORRECTIONS OFFICERS PBA LOCAL 382
VS. COUNTY OF ESSEX, ET AL.
This is an appeal from a summary action pursuant to Rule 4:67 in which plaintiffs allege that Essex County has unlawfully "privatized" its jail operations. We hold that Essex County can lawfully contract for rehabilitative and similar treatment services for county jail inmates at two privately owned and operated inmate facilities, Delaney Hall and Logan Hall. Without express Legislative authority, however, the county cannot lawfully delegate to private entities its core governmental function of confining and "keeping" county inmates who are not in need of such services.
Plaintiffs did not prove the unlawfulness of the five-year, $129-million-plus contract for the operation of Delaney and Logan Halls. Although plaintiffs initiated the request that the litigation proceed as a summary action, the importance of the issue and the likelihood of similar future contracts warrants a remand to permit further proceedings as a plenary case.