The State Senate has no plans to investigate abuses at New Jersey’s only women’s prison “at this time,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said.
“Listen, we held a hearing before. The commissioner didn’t appear,” he told the New Jersey Globe. “This has been an issue that has been known about for over a year. It’s time for the commissioner to leave and, honestly, the federal government to take over that facility.”
Earlier Thursday, all 25 Democrats in the legislature’s upper chamber called for the resignation of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks over inmate beatings at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility. They also urged the federal government to step in and take control of the prison.
That move followed an NJ Advance Media report that said dozens of officers and supervisors were suspended after beating inmates at the troubled facility. One woman was beaten so badly she is now confined to a wheelchair.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on Wednesday announced the Assembly Judiciary Committee would investigate the abuses and the prison’s compliance with various corrections laws.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced an outside investigation headed by former State Comptroller Matt Boxer earlier the same day.
“What we said in the letter is what we felt,” Sweeney said. “We think they should close that facility and move those prisoners into safer situations than what they’re in.”
The scandal isn’t the first to come out of the facility in Union County. In September, state officials reached a tentative settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over sexual assaults and other civil rights breaches there.