At Bo Robinson, a Halfway House in New Jersey, Bedlam Reigns
Most of the attacks happened inside the supply closet. Away from workers or security cameras. A dark space that Vanessa Falcone tried desperately to avoid.
Ms. Falcone was an inmate at the Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center, a 900-bed halfway house here that is at the vanguard of a national movement to privatize correctional facilities.
She was assigned to the cleaning crew, under the supervision of a janitor. One night in 2009, he ordered her into the closet.
“He took his pants off and grabbed my hair and pushed me down,” Ms. Falcone, now 32, said in an interview. “That started a few weeks of basically hell.”
Finally, she told a senior guard that she was being sexually assaulted, according to internal reports written by the guard.
She was immediately transferred to another halfway house. The janitor was dismissed. And that is where it ended.
State officials and prosecutors did not conduct an inquiry into the allegations or the halfway house, which is run by Community Education Centers, a company with close ties to New Jersey politicians, including Chris Christie, who became governor in 2010.
“They shipped me off to another place like it never happened,” said Ms. Falcone, who had gone to prison for forging prescriptions.
Located next to a highway in an industrial stretch of Trenton, the Bo Robinson center is supposed to represent the new thinking in corrections. To save money, the state releases inmates early from prisons and turns them over to privately operated halfway houses.