On June 10, 1982, inmates of the Essex County Jail [ECJ] filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement. On October 14, 1982, the District Court (Judge Harold A. Ackerman) approved and entered a Consent Decree which specified changes to be taken at the ECJ in the areas of overcrowding, exercise, inmate visits, food service, medical care, fire prevention and other general conditions. The Court appointed two special masters to evaluate and monitor the jail conditions. The 1982 Consent Decree was subsequently amended and modified several times.
On March 9, 1987, inmates in the Essex County Jail Annex [ECJA] filed a similar §1983 suit and eventually the cases were consolidated.
On November 20, 1989 the District Court (Judge Harold A. Ackerman) issued sanctions against defendants for failing to abide by overall population limits as set by the 1982 Consent Decree as amended and not providing inmates recreation. Essex County Jail Inmates v. Amato, 726 F.Supp. 539 (D.N.J. 1989).
Subsequent consent decrees followed, ending with the entry of a Second Consolidated Consent Order and Medical Consent Order on August 8, 1995. Plaintiffs sought sanctions against defendants for violation of the Second Consolidated Consent Order. The Court denied the request for contempt sanctions, but issued a fine which was suspended pending defendants immediately taking steps to come into compliance, as outlined by the Court. Essex County Jail Annex Inmates v. Treffinger, 18 F.Supp.2d 445 (D.N.J. 1998).
On November 24, 2003, the District Court denied the motion to intervene by Patrolmen Benevolent Association
On March 31, 2004, defendants moved all Essex County inmates held at ECJ and ECJA to the new Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF). Following the move, the parties prepared a Third Consolidated Consent Order to take into account the new structure and facilities of the ECCF.
On December 2, 2005, the District Court issued an order that the cases would be administratively terminated if written objections to the proposed termination were not received from the parties. Thereafter, the Special Masters provided the Court with their final Report and Recommendation, along with a copy of the proposed Third Consolidated Consent Order on December 14, 2006,
The District Court visited the ECCF on January 26, 2007, along with counsel for the parties and one of the Special Masters. After the tour, on February 5, 2007, the District Court issued an order, denying the approval of the proposed Third Consolidated Consent Order, and instead, dismissing the case. In his order, Judge Ackerman noted that the Court no longer needed to be involved in the case and stated "it is my fervent hope that the legendary Phoenix that is this case will at last find eternal rest."
As of the date of the summary, the case remained closed.Kristen Sagar - 06/07/2007