Home Police, Fire & Courts Ocean County Jail Freeing Inmates With Immigration Detainers

Ocean County Jail Freeing Inmates With Immigration Detainers

The Ocean County Justice Complex, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The Ocean County Justice Complex, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Ocean County Jail is one of four county jails in New Jersey that is setting free inmates with detainers from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), a report out over the weekend said.

Ocean County recently joined Union, Burlington and Camden counties in discharging inmates who make bail despite the immigration detainer, an NJ.com report revealed.

The decision to ignore the detainers comes after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last March that ICE detainers are requests – not orders – and jails can choose whether or not to hold inmates based on them. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Middlesex County man who was held on an ICE detainer. Though the detainer was eventually voided since the man was Puerto Rican – thus, an American citizen – the court weighed in on the overall issue of detainers.


Since then, four of New Jersey’s county jails have chosen not to hold inmates based on the detainers. Union County authorities outwardly advertised their decision, saying the policy contributed to “senseless family separations” that do not “promote trust between immigrant communities and police departments.”

In the NJ.com report, Ocean County authorities made no such statements, but simply referenced the county’s policy.

“It is the policy of this department that individuals shall not be housed in this facility solely on an ICE detainer or warrant,” the county’s policy says, as quoted by NJ.com. “Nor shall they be committed to this facility by a law enforcement agency without an accompanying commitment issued by a judge.”

The ACLU has applauded the decision by the four counties.

“It is an improvement when even one fewer person is unlawfully held in jail,” said ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Alexander Shalom, in a statement issued last summer. “Even so, counties that honor any detainer requests not only ignore the constitutional rights of detainees, but they also shortchange community trust and public safety, all while risking enormous financial consequences. Union County’s approach serves all of the county’s residents and serves as a model for the state and nation.”

The counterpoint comes from organizations who oppose illegal immigration. They say the ACLU has been bullying counties against recognizing the detainers with threats of lawsuits. While the court has ruled that detainer requests do not amount to court orders that compel authorities to keep someone in jail, opponents of the policy point to the fact that a law was broken that landed the subject of the detainer in jail in the first place, and they may be illegally in the county pending a deportation hearing.

The NJ.com report said ICE deported about 4,361 noncitizens from the New Jersey last year, about half of whom were criminals.

  • TPfreedomfighter

    Great idea!

    Break the law by being here.
    Break the law while you’re here enough to be in jail.
    Get released on bail with most likely a false name.
    Never show up for your court date.
    Commit more crimes under a new name.
    Don’t show up for court again.

    This is the problem with liberalism. It puts the rights of lawbreakers over those of the citizens.

    • Beach N8iv

      IF you believe that cops aren’t lazy and prosecutors along with public defenders INCOMPETENT then, yeah, you’re right. Did you even read the article? ESPECIALLY the part that read: “the man was Puerto Rican – thus, an American citizen” Which pretty much proves laziness and incompetence.

    • JW P

      You don’t know how the justice system works at all, do you?

  • #@#.com

    When the government chooses which laws to enforce, then the American citizens will decide which laws to obey. This is how anarchy begins. When President Owebama and the Attorney General Eric Holder can pick and choose which laws they want to obey or enforce, then the American citizens will do so also.

  • JW P

    Good. It’s discriminatory to hold people in jail when they can make bail- everyone has a right to a reasonable bail under the constitution. We don’t need to be housing people on the county’s dime because Congress can’t reform the immigration system.

  • Mindy Murray Moich

    Maybe I am wrong but I thought oc jail became s state prison years ago. So why would it be up to the county?

    • JW P

      I’m pretty sure that it is run by the county sheriff’s department. So is the juvie hall by the health department building. The state probably bankrolls it like most local government in this state, but I think that’s where their involvement ends.

      • Mindy and JWP – The Ocean County Jail is neither a state prison nor run by the Sheriff’s Department. The jail is run by a separate county Corrections Department that is not under the auspices of the sheriff.

        County jails and state prisons serve different functions. In New Jersey, county jails house inmates awaiting trial or serving short sentences of a year or less. On occasion, a sentenced inmate may be transferred back to a county jail during an appeal. County jail budgets are set by the county and administered by a county agency (ie. a sheriff’s department or county corrections department). State prisons house inmates serving sentences of a year or more. A list of state prisons can be found here: http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/pages/contactus.html

  • j.jones

    If they are here illegal and commit a crime send them back to there country its just a simple way to solve this cheaper for plane ticket them feed them and house them for life..Our laws are so screwed up ..Take care of our own people in need..Winters here families will be cold and hungry …