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Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Perth Amboy)

Lopez asks corrections department to implement Dignity Act

By David Wildstein, January 25 2021 7:07 pm

A Star-Ledger report of a criminal probe involving employees at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility triggered a call from a Middlesex County legislator to implement a relatively new state law that helps incarcerated parents stay in touch with their families.

“I am horrified by the news that dozens of staffers are accused of physically abusing inmates earlier this month at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility,” said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Perth Amboy).  “Their suspensions are warranted. The continued alleged misuse of force and repeated abuses against inmates at Edna Mahan are reprehensible and barbaric.”

Lopez sponsored the Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caretakers Parents Act that was signed into law in 2020.   Her law sough to “address the conditions inmates face while incarcerated and to establish a robust Office of the Ombudsman to act as an advocate and independent resource for inmates and their families.”

“We must ensure the provisions of the law are being properly applied and New Jersey must lead the nation in ensuring that our correctional facilities are rehabilitative not punitive,” Lopez said.

Lopez wants Commissioner of Corrections Marcus  Hicks and the Office of the Corrections Ombudsman to implement the provisions of the Dignity Act “in order to protect the welfare and wellbeing of inmates.”

“Abuse has no place in New Jersey’s correctional facilities nor any correctional facility, period,” Lopez said.

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