News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul Drake, Commissioner


For Immediate Release

May 4, 2023
Contact Brad Fay at (908) 231-7628

Somerset County Explores Reduction of Jail Operations

Declining Inmate Population Prompts Strategic Assessment


SOMERVILLE, NJ –The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners and Sheriff Darrin Russo have jointly created a jail assessment working group to determine the future of the Somerset County Jail.

New Jersey’s landmark 2017 bail reform law, which prohibits courts from granting or denying bail based on who can pay, has significantly reduced the use of County jail cells of inmates awaiting trial.  The number of inmates statewide has decreased since New Jersey largely eliminated cash bail, and populations dropped further during the pandemic.  Over the last year the average number of Somerset County inmates held in the County facility has been 125 per day, which is about one-third of the capacity.

“The working group has just begun to investigate what a reduction of jail services looks like here in Somerset County,” said County Administrator Colleen Mahr. “The process will require Somerset County to find a place for its inmates in another facility, while still supporting local law enforcement and the Courts with the necessary transportation to, and from, jail.”

In addition, Somerset County will work with various employee unions, outside vendors, and the courts to ensure an orderly transition.

“I am committed to making sure that the dedicated uniform and civilian staff who have worked for the residents of Somerset County are treated fairly and with respect during this process,” said Sheriff Russo. “We will do our best to assist impacted employees.”

No specific timelines have been established for this process.

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