FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2006
ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES
LEADERSHIP CHANGES AT ESSEX COUNTY JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER
Todd R. Warren Appointed as Director;
Rev. Dennis E. Hughes Appointed as Warden;
Gina Saunders Receives Historic Appointment as the First Woman
to Serve as Assistant Warden
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced new leadership at the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center in Newark. The changes were announced on Tuesday, July 11th and were made after former Director Ronald Salahuddin joined the administration of Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Todd R. Warren, who had been serving as Warden at the facility, was promoted to Director of the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center. The new Warden is Rev. Dennis E. Hughes, who was serving as Head Chaplain of the Detention Center. Captain Gina Saunders became the first woman ever to be appointed as Assistant Warden in the history of Essex County.
“Todd Warren, Rev. Dennis Hughes and Captain Gina Saunders have extensive experience in our juvenile justice system. I am confident they will provide the dynamic and professional leadership that is needed to continue the transformation of our facility into a first class model in the State,” DiVincenzo said. “With the changes we have implemented, the residents at our Juvenile Detention Center are getting the attention and guidance they need to turn their lives around and get a second chance,” he added.
“These three individuals represent the cadre of leaders who have been part of the extraordinary effort to improve the Detention Center and tackle the issue of overcrowding,” said Anibal Ramos, Director of Citizen Services. “They have contributed greatly to the reform at our Juvenile Detention Center and throughout our entire Juvenile Justice System,” he added.
Warren, a resident of Newark, succeeds Salahuddin as Director of the Juvenile Detention Center. Warren was named Warden in October 2003 and, prior to that, he was an Internal Affairs Investigator with the Essex County Department of Public Safety for seven years and an Essex County Corrections Officer. He also previously served as a Probation Officer in the Essex County Probation Department and Probation Liaison with the Essex County Juvenile Court. Warren is a member of the African American Law Enforcement Association, East Coast Gang Investigators Association and the NAACP Newark Branch. He is a Minister in Training at Clear View Baptist Church in Irvington and is the founder of the Todd R. Warren Foundation, which provides youth mentoring and senior services and supports a community food pantry. His salary is $75,000.
“I am happy about the promotion and thank the County Executive for this opportunity to run the Detention Center and implement programs that will help our youth. We want our residents to be better people when they leave us,” Warren said. “My focus is ‘Restoration through Education.’ We need to foster the success of our young people after they leave our institution, get them re-entered into school and rebuild their families,” he added.
Rev. Hughes, a resident of East Orange, was a Juvenile Detention Officer who has served as the Head Chaplain at the Juvenile Detention Center since 1997. In that capacity he oversees a volunteer and mentor program that involves over 60 churches and community organizations, and 200 individual mentors. Rev. Hughes has worked with youth to continue their education and find employment after their release from the Juvenile Detention Center. In addition, Rev. Hughes is the Pastor of St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jersey City and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Christian Education in the African Methodist Church for New Jersey. His salary is $58,500.
“I’m honored for this opportunity and I look forward to building on the positive changes our former director and this administration have made in taking our Center to being a model facility in the State,” Rev. Hughes said. “Our Juvenile Detention Center is not a holding place for bad youth. We want to build a solid foundation, give our kids support and give them something positive to look forward to when they are released,” he added.
Captain Saunders, a resident of Newark, was hired as a provisional Juvenile Detention Center Officer in 1996 and rose through the ranks to become the first women in the history of the facility to be appointed as Assistant Warden. She became a Certified Juvenile Detention Center Officer in April 1997, was promoted to Senior Officer in February 1998 and to Supervising Juvenile Detention Officer in June 2001. Saunders was named Lieutenant of the Year at the Facility in 2001, reached Cycle 55 at the Thomas Cooper Staff Training Academy, successfully completed the Detention Careworkers Curriculum and has a Training for Trainers Certificate. Her salary is $58,500.
Captain Saunders said she was very proud of her promotion and the confidence that her superiors have in her abilities. “I wanted to move up the ranks and advance my career. I always did my job and made sure there was a positive and secure environment for our residents and officers,” she said. The new Assistant Warden said she wanted to “stop the revolving door” of juveniles who come in and out of the Center. “We need to start here and make sure they have support when they return to their communities,” she added.
The County Executive thanked Salahuddin for serving as Director of the Juvenile Detention Center and turning the troubled facility into a model institution. Under the leadership of DiVincenzo and Salahuddin, an on-site library for residents and staff was created and the hours of curriculum instruction was increased to 6.5 hours per day from 4 – making Essex the only facility in the state to offer a full school day. In addition, recreation and enrichment classes are being offered to the Center’s residents and infrastructure improvements were made to improve the safety in the building. Salahuddin was selected as the December 2004 Child Advocate of the Month by the New Jersey Office of the Child Advocate in Trenton.
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