Former NFLer Tackles New Job as Detention Center Boss

Feb 28, 2018
Jonathan Carman

Barnegat Township resident Jonathan Carman, a former pro football lineman for the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, was recently appointed superintendent of the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center by the county Board of Freeholders.

The 42-year-old Carman, who was formerly supervisor of the county Department of Juvenile Services, began his new post on March 1. He joined the department as a social worker in 2005. Carman has a master’s degree in human services and marriage and family therapy from Liberty University.

“Working with youngsters has been very special to me,” he said. “You work with many kids who come from a difficult environment. I’m not out to change the world. What’s most important is that I plant a seed of positive change.”

That would be in line with the philosophy of the department, which on its website says it operates under the premise that there are no “bad” kids but just kids who do “bad” things.

“Juveniles entering the facility (the detention center) are the unfinished products of maladaptive behavior in response to a generally dysfunctional social history,” the site says. “The behavior is usually grounded in a distorted thought process, rudimentary value system, and very low self-esteem. The social services unit has the responsibility of evaluating individual needs, recommending specific action plans within the facility, and assisting the custody staff implement the behavior management program.”

Carman also takes over when a new administration is taking shape in Trenton, with Gov. Phil Murphy advocating the legalization of marijuana. Carman vehemently disagrees.

“My own experiences tells me that marijuana is indeed a factor in juvenile delinquency,” he said. “I’ve met many, many kids that have come in (to the detention center) and it’s from marijuana, from cannabis.”

Carman said these juveniles suffer from withdrawal for about two weeks because “their brains have been been rewired” from cannabis use.

Carman played collegiate football at Georgia Tech, where at 6-8, 335 pounds he was one of the biggest players to ever suit up for the Yellow Jackets. Although he was an All-America selection and ranked as one of top 10 offensive lineman country, he got bypassed in the 2000 NFL draft and signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills. He played in Buffalo for two years, then got cut and was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings for the 2002 season. However, he did not see any game action in Minnesota, at which time Carman began to realize that a football career was not in the cards.

Now he hopes that kids who come to the center can overcome their problems and lead a successful life.

“We’re not the jail,” said Carman. “Our approach is rehabilitation, education, hoping that what they’ve gone through will be just a bump in the road. Working with juveniles is challenging and rewarding all at the same time. I hope to continue the tradition of providing the best services possible for the community we serve here in Ocean County.”

— Eric Englund


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