Civilian oversight urgently needed at Joe D’s jail | Editorial

Posted Sep 22, 2019

After all the previous rot, and the bragging about having the best jail in America, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo still hasn’t set up a civilian oversight board at his lockup in Newark – where credible charges of horrifying abuses are still surfacing.

In the latest case, described by Matt Katz at WNYC, an immigrant detainee says he was beaten, stripped and sexually assaulted by guards at the jail overseen by the Essex County Executive.

One stepped on his genitals, Jose Hernandez Velasquez alleges. Medical records from a hospital after the May altercation support his account of multiple assailants, and signs of injury to his genitals. He was charged, but the officers weren’t. Then he was thrown into solitary confinement for a month.

The Department of Corrections’ internal affairs office investigated and found no crime against him; good enough for the prosecutor’s office, which closed the case. Only after Katz started looking into it, and new information came to light, is this back under investigation.


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