Gov. Phil Murphy would not say if he’s ready to fire embattled Commissioner of Corrections Marcus Hicks, but he sounded more like he’s ready to let him go than to keep him.
The refusal to offer any support at all for his cabinet member came hours after Murphy announced that he has decided to close down the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women following an independent investigation into allegations of beatings and sexual assaults by prison guards.
“No news to make on leadership,” Murphy said, “But I’m very disturbed by the report.”
The governor typically has the backs of his administration officials in public settings.
Lawmakers from both parties have called for Hicks’ ouster — and some are seeking his impeachment.
Murphy warned people not to expect the state’s only prison for women to close immediately.
“An institution like this – you can’t turn the cruise liner around in five minutes,” he said. “It takes time.”
Murphy said the strategy going forward is to “close and reform.”
“The report screams out that it needs to both be closed, and reforms need to be implemented and that process has to begin immediately.”
According to Murphy, he has not yet settled on a pick to replace Corrections ombudsman Daniel DiBenedetti, who announced on April 9 that he would retiring on August 1. He is currently in administrative leave.