By David Madden

By David Madden

WOODBURY, N.J. (CBS) — Gloucester County plans to close the county jail and transfer inmates to prisons in three neighboring counties in the name of economy.

Public defenders are trying to block the plan.

On Monday, those plans are the focus of a hearing before a Superior Court judge.

Some 280 inmates could be housed in Salem, Cumberland and Burlington Counties come July 1st unless the public defenders prevail.

Assistant Public Defender Dale Jones says the plan makes it too difficult for defendants to see their lawyers.

“We don’t have any kind of reasonable access to our clients, and as a criminal defense attorney, that’s one of the key elements in providing effective representation,” Jones explained.

The county plans to shuttle prisoners to Woodbury for hearings and lawyer meetings.

County prison guards withdrew from the suit last week, after reaching an agreement to provide early retirement to 25 of their most senior members.

Most of the rest are either moving on, retiring or transferring into other jobs, although over 30 are still facing potential layoffs.

The hearing is scheduled in Mount Holly, Burlington County for 2 p.m. in front of Judge Robert Bookbinder.

It’s been moved out of Gloucester County to prevent a conflict of interest.

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE