Community Education Centers

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Community Education Centers abbreviated CEC was a private for-profit prison company based in West Caldwell, New Jersey and active in seventeen American states and in Bermuda.[1][2][3]

In June, 2007 CEC acquired another operator of private prisons, CiviGenics.[4]

In 2011, New Jersey and its counties spent about $105 million on halfway houses. Of that amount, about $71 million went to Community Education Centers.[5]

The firm operated fourteen jails, mostly in Texas. Its largest “secure facility” was the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania with a capacity of 1,883.[6] It also had contracts for twenty six “residential reentry” facilities, more commonly called “halfway houses.” The largest of these was Delaney Hall in Newark, New Jersey with a capacity of 1,196.[6] It also offered a number of residential treatment programs funded by Native American tribes in six states.[6]

In addition to contracts with cities, counties and states, the firm also provided "reentry services" in four states to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.[7]

In June, 2012, The New York Times published the results of a 10-month-long investigation into the halfway houses operated by the firm in New Jersey. Almost three quarters of one group of inmates at a New Jersey facility tested positive for various drugs. Although government contracts required inmates be provided therapy and job training no such programs were offered.[8] The company was described in the press as having close ties to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.[8] At the time the company's senior vice president was William J. Palatucci, a close friend and adviser to Governor Christie. He and the governor's brother Todd Christie co-chaired the governor's inaugural committee.[16]

The firm is paid about seventy dollars a day to house each inmate, about half the cost of a prisoner held in a state-run facility. Some of the inmates in the facilities retain connections to gangs. The Delaney Hall facility, for example, includes inmates affiliated with the Bloods.[3] Drugs were widely available at least at the New Jersey sites in the series covered by The New York Times' report.[8]

In April 2017, GEO Group, Inc., one of the world's two largest for-profit prison corporations, acquired Community Education Centers.[9]


In December 2008, CEC guard Odessan Andrew Allen Zehr was charged with accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into the company's Ector County Correctional Center.[10]

In May, 2009, CEC guard Amber Hinds was indicted on charges she attempted to smuggle drugs into the Texarkana, Texas facility.[11]

In September, 2009 McLennan County, Texas Sheriff Larry Lynch said he would no longer accept payments from CEC. Private prisons need the permission of the local sheriff to operate, so the payments presented the appearance of a conflict of interest.[12]

In March 2011, the Liberty County, Texas jail failed an inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Violations included key administrators who did not have state licenses, plumbing problems and inoperative communications systems.[13]

In October 2011, a CEC guard, James Allen Roach pleaded guilty to charges he had smuggled tobacco and marijuana to inmates at the Liberty County, Texas facility.[14]

In January, 2012, the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Lydell B Sherrer, pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges related to jobs at the facilities.[8]

In July 2012, the New Jersey State Legislature held two days of hearings on halfway houses in the state. Shortly after the hearings, the state imposed a fine of $45,000 on contractors including Community Education Centers for not notifying state authorities promptly when inmates escaped. Six inmates had escaped from facilities run by the firm.[15]

In 2013, The New York Times reported that the firm was the largest provider of halfway house services in Pennsylvania with almost 1,300 beds. A study by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections that inmates who transitioned through halfway houses (run by the state or a contractor) were more likely to return to jail than those who were released directly from prison.[16]

In May 2013, a CEC guard, Latondra Natrell Brown, was arrested for allegedly smuggling contraband to inmates at the Liberty County, Texas facility.[17]

In June 2013, nine guards were convicted of smuggling contraband into the Ector County Correctional Center, and received sentences in federal prison.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Community Education Centers homepage accessed 18 June 2012.
  2. ^ Biography of founder John J Clancy at [1] retrieved 18 June 2012
  3. ^ a b At a New Jersey Halfway House, a Volatile Mix Fuels a Murder, By Sam Dolnick, The New York Times, 19 June 2012
  4. ^ Community Education Centers acquires CiviGenics, press release by CEC, dated 5 June 2007
  5. ^ Christie Orders New Inspections on Halfway Houses, by Sam Dolnick, 19 June 2012, The New York Times
  6. ^ a b c Community Education Centers homepage accessed 18 June 2012
  7. ^ Company press release, 31 May 2012, accessed 18 June 2012
  8. ^ a b c d ”At Bo Robinson, Halfway House in New Jersey, Bedlam Reigns, by Sam Dolnick, The New York Times, 18 June 2012”
  9. ^ "Press Release". Retrieved 2017-06-02.
  10. ^ CEC/CiviGenics Guard Charged with Smuggling Cell Phone, Texas Prison Bid'ness blog, 16 December 2008
  11. ^ CEC/CiviGenics Texarkana guard indicted on drug charges, Texas Prison Bid'ness blog, 21 May 2009
  12. ^ Sheriff Agrees to Not Take Additional Money from Private Prison Company, Texas Prison Bid'ness blog, 30 September 2009
  13. ^ CEC's Liberty County Jail fails TCJS inspection; Warden is not properly licensed, Texas Prison Bid'ness blog, 13 April 2011
  14. ^ CEC guard pleads guilty to smuggling drugs into Liberty County facility, 21 October 2013, Texas Prison Bid'ness blog
  15. ^ New Jersey Fines Halfway Houses over Inmate Escapes, by Sam Dolnick, The New York Times, 15 August 2012
  16. ^ Pennsylvania Study Finds Halfway Houses Don't Reduce Recidivism, New York Times, Sam Dolnick, March 25, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Liberty County jailer arrested on drug charges, < "from Community Reports", 24 May 2013, Cleveland Advocate
  18. ^ Eight sentenced in bribery scheme, Odessa American, Jon Vanderlaan, June 15, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2018.