The Assembly Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on extensive abuses at the state’s only women’s prison, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced Wednesday night.
“I am extremely disturbed about the continued allegations of abuse at Edna Mahan. A pattern has developed at the facility and those supervising it are not doing nearly enough to protect its vulnerable inmates,” Coughlin said. “We need answers and we need reform.”
Earlier this month, NJ Advance Media reported dozens of staffers at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility were suspended after severely beating inmates.
Coughlin’s announcement comes after assemblywoman from both sides of the aisle called for Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks to resign or be put on leave.
Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced he’d tapped former State Comptroller Matt Boxer for an outside investigation into the abuses at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.
The scandal isn’t the first to emerge from the state prison. Just months ago, state officials reached a tentative settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over sexual assaults committed by multiple officers there.
The Assembly’s probe, which will be directed by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), will examine the beatings and whether the prison complied with regulations like those under the Dignity Act, a prison-reform bill passed, in part, to sexual misconduct in correctional facilities.
“A comprehensive, thorough investigation is required and any corrective action deemed necessary must be taken immediately,” Coughlin said.