State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totawa) accused Gov. Phil Murphy of moving to defend himself from political fallout over abuses at the state’s only women’s prison after he announced an independent investigation in beatings there by former State Comptroller Matt Boxer.
“Once again, Governor Murphy has turned a blind eye as women that he had a responsibility to protect were sexually and physically abused,” Corrado said. “First it happened to a member of his inner circle, and now it’s happened on an even larger scale to female prisoners at Edna Mahan due to a lack of effective oversight by his administration.”
Corrado was co-chair of the bicameral Select Committee on Investigation that probed the hiring of Al Alvarez, the former Schools Development Authority chief of staff who was accused of sexually assaulting state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan.
A growing group of lawmakers have called for Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks to resign, be removed or be put on leave in the wake of an NJ Advance Media report that found dozens of officers and supervisors at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility were put on leave for beating inmates.
One woman was beaten so badly she is now confined to a wheelchair.
In his announcement, Murphy appeared to stand by Hicks, though he said “any individual who acted improperly will be held fully accountable.”
The scandal at Edna Mahan comes just months after state officials reached a tentative settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over sexual assaults there.
“Governor Murphy has repeatedly been unwilling to listen to warnings or concerns that people tried to bring to his attention, leading to additional acts of brutality and victimization against women,” Corrado said. “Additionally, it’s beyond disappointing that New Jersey taxpayers will have to shell out for another expensive investigation because Governor Murphy’s reaction is to circle the wagons rather than hold his team accountable like a real leader would do.”