Abuse in NJ Prisons: State Assembly Proposes Legislative Corrections on Edna Mahan
TRENTON, NJ – Democratic members of the New Jersey State Assembly are proposing reforms to the Garden State Prison for Isolated Women, a place that has become a hotspot for prison reform after years of ‘abuse.
A 6-bill package was presented on Wednesday as the first of a two-part legislative package addressing the concerns of the Edna Mahan Correctional Center. The Assembly’s Women and Children Committee will meet in June to consider further measures regarding Edna Mahan.
The following measurements are included in the package:
- A-4681 expands the eligibility of certain inmates to participate in residential release programs; amends DOC’s reporting requirements for the capacity of these programs.
- The A-4785 expands the scope of inmate reintegration assistance and benefits.
- A-5039 requires correctional police officers to wear body cameras.
- A-5749 concerns investigations of sexual abuse in state prisons
- A-5750 prohibits retaliation against inmates in state prisons who report sexual abuse; criminalizes retaliation and failure to report abuse.
- A-5751 expands the training of state prison officers to include subjects contributing to their fundamental mission of treating prisoners with dignity, fairness and respect.
“The abuse model, including widespread sexual abuse, and the systemic failures in Edna Mahan call for legislative action,” said MP Raj Mukherji, Democrat and chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “When Edna Mahan’s women needed protection, their appeals and complaints went unanswered. Cultural change and additional accountability and oversight are needed to safeguard the basic human rights of these detainees.
It comes just a week after it was revealed that New Jersey taxpayers must pay an estimated $ 1.3 million in fees to a criminal justice consultant to assist the Corrections Department with a criminal investigation. on what the Attorney General said was a “brutal attack” on Edna Mahan detainees on January 11.
The ministry announced in February that it had hired the Moss Group as a consultant to provide technical support, policy development and other advice at the facility.
A total of 10 officers were charged in the latest Edna Mahan incident, which occurred late at night between January 11 and January 12, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Between approximately 10:30 p.m. on January 11 and 1:15 a.m. on January 12, New Jersey DOC officers and supervisors assigned to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton performed forced cell extractions of inmates located in the compound. the housing unit repairer.
These are the latest arrests in an investigation that appeared to have criticized state Department of Corrections commissioner Marcus Hicks. Edna Mahan has a long history of abusive conduct by agents, with the state settling for just over $ 20 million with more than 20 victims dating back to 2014 earlier in April.
New Jersey Department of Corrections Ombudsman Dan DiBenedetti announced his resignation effective August 1 on April 9 after tense hearings before the justice and women and children committees of the state assembly just one day before. Several state politicians called for DiBenedetti’s resignation after the hearings, in which he admitted he had not been to Edna Mahan Correctional Center for over a year and could not name a policy proposal that he had proposed to solve the problems.
Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, who has faced calls for his dismissal or resignation from all members of the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, said he finally has the capacity to do what he says are real changes to solve the problems that arise in the prison. .
The Democratic-led state Senate passed a bipartisan resolution calling on Hicks to resign or asking New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to fire him 35-0 in February. The resolution also called on Murphy to transfer detainees to a safe facility and requires the Department of Corrections to comply with recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice that were issued more than six months ago.
Gov. Phil Murphy has backed Hicks for now and has appointed former state comptroller Matt Boxer as an independent investigator into the allegations.
Murphy, who in a statement called the officers’ actions disgusting and a violation of public confidence, continued to insist the state would hold anyone accountable for their actions.
“I understand from the Attorney General’s announcement that the criminal investigation is underway, and I have no doubts that anyone who breaks the law will be held accountable. Beyond the criminal investigation, we need to have a full account of how this incident may have happened so that we can put in place the necessary reforms and safeguards. I thank former State Comptroller Matt Boxer for taking on this crucial task. “
Hicks, rather than resigning, announced the hiring of the aforementioned Moss group to help with planned reforms. The firm’s objective is to “provide technical support in operational practice, policy development and the implementation of identified solutions related to the Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility.” The state is also actively recruiting a deputy commissioner to look after women’s services within the state prison system.
Spokesmen for the New Jersey Department of Corrections did not respond to PIX11 News ‘request for comment on the Democrats’ proposals.
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