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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Atlantic County Commended for its Juvenile Detention Facility

Harborfields, Atlantic County’s juvenile detention facility, received high praise from the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission following several visits to the facility in November 2014 as part of a programmatic evaluation.

In a letter to the county, Interim Deputy Executive Director of Programs Robert Montalbano stated, “the facility’s positive culture remains the most noteworthy feature of the detention center. The staff members are respectful to the residents and provide a safe environment. The mail, telephone, and visiting procedures encourage residents to maintain family contacts.”

“I am extremely proud of the staff at Harborfields,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson. “They are dedicated to helping these youth find their potential to become productive citizens. Everyone makes mistakes, some more damaging than others. It’s what you then do with your life that matters.”

The facility was evaluated and found compliant in 14 select program areas including intake and admission procedures, resident grievance procedures, resident hygiene, social services, staff development, recreation, room restriction, and logbooks.

Montalbano also noted that Harborfields is the only detention facility in New Jersey that operates a commissary for the residents as part of its behavior management program. Residents earn points by participating in daily school and afterschool programs and complying with staff directives. Points can be used at the end of the week to buy food and hygiene supplies, attain extra phone privileges and special family visits.

“The commissary, which requires much extra effort on the part of staff, is very effective in encouraging residents to display positive behavior,” he said. “In addition, the meals served to the residents continue to contribute to the positive culture. Residents are fed nutritious meals and are provided with seconds, as required by the Manual of Standards.”

Harborfields residents were interviewed during the evaluation and reported that the staff, social workers, and food were among the best features of the facility.

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