Embattled state Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks has agreed to appear before Assembly committees investigating allegations of beatings and sexual assaults at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said on Friday.
Coughlin said that Hicks will participate in the joint hearing conducted jointly by the Judiciary and Women and Children committees.
“I am extremely disturbed about the continued allegations of abuse at Edna Mahan,” Coughlin said. “A pattern appears to have developed at the facility, which raises the question of whether those supervising the prison are not doing nearly enough to protect its vulnerable inmates.”
The Speaker said that first hearing will be held on April 8.
“We need answers, and we need reform,” said Coughlin. “A comprehensive, thorough investigation is required, and any corrective action deemed necessary must be taken.”
Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) and Women and Children Committee Chair Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester Township) will lead the hearings.
Coughlin said the panel will investigate whether corrections officials were in compliance with state law, including the Dignity Act.
The Assembly’s probe was announced on Jan. 27, the same day Gov. Phil Murphy launched an independent investigation into the abuses at the facility in Hunterdon County headed by former State Comptroller Matt Boxer. The governor said that probe was being conducted in an expedited manner, but no results have been released, and Murphy has declined to give a timeline.
All the meanwhile, the governor has appeared to stand by Hicks, even as every Democrat in the Senate — and later, nearly every member of the chamber — called for the commissioner’s resignation.
Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton), who is running for State Senate, has put forth a resolution to impeach Hicks, though the chamber’s Democratic leaders won’t move that measure. Assemblywomen Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel) and Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) earlier this month introduced a resolution urging the commissioner to resign, but it’s not clear when it will see a vote on the chamber’s floor.