The Corrections Services Division is headed by Warden Michael Tolerico and Deputy Warden Elbrus Basmouk, who, under direction of the Sheriff and Undersheriff are responsible for the daily operations of maintaining the security, custody, and control of all persons legally committed to the Passaic County Jail.

The main structure of the Passaic County Jail, originally designed to hold 227 inmates, was opened in 1957.  The jail was considered overcrowded when the population exceeded 275.

In 1983, a fourth floor was added to the jail complex. This new addition was equipped with more advanced electronic surveillance systems, smoke and fire detection equipment and one hundred new cells. In the early part of 1984 the fourth floor became completely operational and filled to capacity with two hundred state prisoners.

In 1986, with the population over 900, construction of a four-story addition to the existing main jail was started. The new addition was partially completed in 1988, housing one hundred inmates.

This eased some of the strain on the jail, which, at the time, was at an all-time high of 1,200 inmates; however, more expansion was inevitable.

In 1990 the new three-floor Grand Street wing was completed, adding an additional 348 beds, as well as a self-contained rooftop gymnasium.  The layout of the new tiers is quite different from the rest of the jail.

The officer’s station on each floor, enclosed in bulletproof glass, is situated in the center with four large day rooms surrounding it. This design allows for constant visual contact with the inmates in the day rooms, thus alleviating various security problems and the need for more officers.

With the addition of 384 beds in the Grand Street wing, the jail still lost 121 beds due to needed renovations in the main section of the jail.  Several day rooms, which previously housed inmates, were converted to new attorney conference rooms, a schoolroom and office in the north wing of the complex.

Changes in law enforcement, criminal detection and apprehension, as well as trends toward harsher custodial sentences being imposed by the courts, have caused an ever-increasing prison population. Today the number of prisoners housed in our county jail exceeds 1,000.

Unlike state or federal prisons which hold sentenced individuals, the Passaic County Jail houses all of the following: 

  • accused persons awaiting trial;
  • convicted persons serving short-term sentences;
  • convicted offenders awaiting state sentence or execution of sentence;
  • probation, parole and bail bond violators;
  • juveniles pending transfer to juvenile authorities;
  • mentally ill persons pending their movement to appropriate health facilities.

Tight Security

Maintaining the security of the jail complex is an ever-changing task and challenge.  As things in our society often change, the needs of corrections also change. The sophistication of the inmate mind requires constant security issue reviews.

The Passaic County Jail has proven to be the most secure county correctional facility in the State of New Jersey.  Well-trained staff has made the Passaic County Jail a formidable and secure institution. “Security, custody and control” is our motto and Sheriff Berdnik demands strict compliance.

The security function of a correction officer is not limited to the confines of the institution.  Correction officers are also charged with the responsibility of safety and security while transporting inmates outside the complex and into the public, as well as supervising them on outside work details.

Work Details

Sheriff Berdnik has assigned several teams of minimum security inmates supervised by veteran corrections officers to an Outside Work Unit. Comprised of the “Work Unit” and the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP), these teams are utilized to assist municipalities and public entities with public works projects, clean-ups, landscaping, painting, or any other project in need of assistance. This program allows inmates to receive credit toward their sentence while allowing others to avoid jail time for minor offenses. Recently, the SLAP crews began repairing potholes and roadways damaged by this past winter’s severe weather. These programs provide assistance to the towns at no cost to the taxpayer, saving millions of dollars. To request a work crew, contact the Community Release Center at 973-881-2767.

Jail Tours

Sheriff Berdnik provides tours throughout the jail, courthouse, and patrol divisions of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office to any youth, senior citizen, business, or civic organization. Citizens are able to get a first-hand look at what it would be like to spend time in the Passaic County Jail or visit a courtroom to view an actual trial in progress. These tours allow both children and adults to see the inside of a detention facility and learn about the operation of the agency. These tours are conducted using multiple approaches:

  • Preventative – aimed at young people who are showing signs of delinquency;
  • Educational – to learn how the overall county law enforcement system works;
  • Career Option – to show the diversity of the Sheriff’s Office and all of the different career choices available within the system.

To schedule a tour, contact the Community Policing office at 973-389-5920.