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New Jersey Commissioner of Corrections Marcus Hicks in 2018. (Photo: Mark C. Olsen.)

No timetable on Edna Mahan prison probe, Murphy says

Governor commends sponsors of Hicks impeachment resolution, but says he’ll wait for investigation to conclude

By David Wildstein, February 12 2021 5:04 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said today that he doesn’t have a timetable on the completion of an independent investigation of allegations that women inmates were beaten and sexually assaulted at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.

“I asked it to be done on an expedited basis, so let’s figure out what happened,” Murphy said.

Murphy did not comment on a bi-partisan move by women legislators to introduce an Assembly resolution to impeach embattled Commissioner of Corrections, Marcus Hicks, but he did acknowledge the collective credibility to those who have called for Hicks’s ouster.

“I looked at the folks who made those statement about the commissioner,” Murphy said.  “It is filled with folks who have been on the right side of history at so many moments, in so many instances, in so many realities and I applaud all the work they’ve done and stand for.”

Assemblywomen Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) introduced an impeachment measure this week, joined by Democratic Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood), Shanique Speight (D-Newark) and Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange).

Murphy’s likely GOP opponent, Jack Ciattarelli, said he supports the impeachment of Hicks.

“The legislature should put this administration on trial,” the former Somerset County assemblyman said.

All 25 Democrats in the State Senate have called for Hicks’ ouster, along every Republican woman in the legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Chair Linda Greenstein, and Senate Judiciary Committee Vice Chair Nellie Pou have been leading the charge to remove Hicks and to determine why the state hasn’t agreed to a consent order following a damning U.S. Department of Justice report.

Murphy indicated no plans to fire Hicks right now.

“There are two investigations ongoing.  One is a criminal investigation – the attorney general had some developments on that already but cautioned all of us with his words that the investigation is ongoing,” Murphy said.  I have asked for an independent investigation by one of the smartest, toughest guys I know, former state comptroller Matt Boxer, and I think we need to let each of them play out.”

The governor did say that once the probe is completed, no one – including Hicks – will avoid his wrath.

“Regardless of who they are, if they are deemed to have been responsible in some way for this awful event, then they will pay the consequences for that,” Murphy stated.

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