HACKENSACK, NJ – After the air conditioning system at Bergen County Jail malfunctioned Friday evening in the midst of a heat wave hitting northern New Jersey, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office said the units were restored within a few hours.
In a statement posted on Facebook Saturday morning, Sheriff Anthony Cureton said administrators were notified at 9:30 p.m. the night before that two air conditioning units had failed and inmates were moved out of the affected areas.
The systems were then evaluated and repaired, but Cureton said random checks would continue to be made to monitor the jail’s environment.
On Saturday morning, about two dozen protestors gathered to demand the units be fixed once and for all. And, over the weekend, several advocacy groups, including the Legal Aid Society, the Brooklyn Defenders Services and the Bronx Defenders released a statement demanding answers, saying they’d heard reports of air conditioning outages impacting people held at the county jail in Hackensack.
“Bergen County Jail has a moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety of all individuals in its custody and their silence on this issue again raises concerns,” the groups said in a joint statement.
The issues also prompted a Tweet from Gov. Murphy who said he was “deeply disturbed by reports of a lack of air conditioning at the Bergen County Jail.”
At the time, spokesman Derek Sands said while a mechanical issue with jail’s heating, ventilation and cooling system is being fixed, parts of the facility have been left with limited cooling capabilities.
During the interim, emergency accommodations were made to ensure inmates and staff had a suitable environment, a plan that included temporary cooling locations and housing reassignments, he said.