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

Under fire, Murphy dropping Hicks as Corrections commissioner

Scandal at Edna Mahan prison makes Hicks too hot to handle

By David Wildstein, June 08 2021 10:32 am

Updated: Hicks has resigned.

Gov. Phil Murphy has decided to replace embattled Commissioner of Corrections Marcus Hicks, two administration sources told the New Jersey Globe.

The decision to part ways with Hicks, who was a holdover from Gov. Chris Christie’s cabinet, comes after scathing independent report commissioner by the Governor’s office detailed allegations of beatings and sexual abuses at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women that occurred on Hicks’ watch.

Murphy said on Monday that he was “very disturbed by the report” and announced that he would close the facility as part of a series of reforms he planned to initiate.

Lawmakers from both parties have called for Hicks’ ouster — and some had sought his impeachment.

“New leadership is required across the breadth of the Department of Corrections,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.  “I believe it is also imperative that we have a federal monitor in place to oversee the new leadership.”

Hicks, 42, joined the New Jersey Department of Corrections in 2007 after serving on Gov. Jon Corzine’s staff.  He served as chief of staff at the department until Christie elevated him to acting commissioner in 2018.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served the Murphy Administration and the people of New Jersey as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections for the past three years,” Hicks said. ” “I’m proud of the work we’ve done and wish our staff and individuals under our care well as the Department continues its mission to ensure safety and promote rehabilitation.”

Victoria Kuhn, Esq. will serve as acting commissioner.  She is currently chief of staff at the Department of Corrections.

Several prison guards in Hicks’ department are facing criminal prosecution, and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said that the investigation is ongoing.

The resignation of Commissioner Hicks only addresses half of the leadership failure in the Murphy administration that allowed the abuses and sexual assaults at Edna Mahan to continue for too long,” said Senate Minority Conference Leader Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa).

The independent report was authored by former State Comptroller Matt Boxer.

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This story was updated at 10:48 AM with comment from Hicks and at 11:16 AM with comment from Corrado. 

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