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Edna Mahan Correctional Facility. (Photo: NJ Globe file photo).

Senators want to know why Corrections Department hasn’t signed federal consent order

Weinberg says federal monitors might have prevented assault on women prisoners

By David Wildstein, February 10 2021 3:01 pm

The failure of the Department of Corrections to agree to federal monitors at an embattled women’s prison has three state senators questioning why the state hasn’t signed a consent agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

“If federal monitors were assigned to Edna Mahan, the 32 Corrections officers who are now suspended would have had to think hard before deciding to don riot gear, brutally assault women inmates or brazenly try to cover it up,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

All 25 Democrats in the New Jersey State Senate have called on Commissioner of Corrections Marcus Hicks to resign following allegations that his employees beat and sexually assaulted women prisoners at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, and a 2020 Justice Department report that found a long trail of abuses.

“I had to question him during the Senate Budget hearing (in June) because he refused to show up to answer questions at the hearing I held as Senate Law and Public Safety Committee chair to investigate the abuses at Edna Mahan,” said State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro, the committee chair.  “Six months later, the fact that there is still no agreement makes it clear that protecting vulnerable women locked in prison from physical and sexual abuse is not a priority for this Administration.  It is for us in the Senate.”

Hicks has not resigned, and Gov. Phil Murphy has not fired him.

“The cover-up has gone on long enough at all levels,” said State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-North Haledon).

Senate Minority Conference Leader Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) today said she supported a resolution being introduced by Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) to impeach Hicks if he’s not fired or if he refuses to resign.

“Time and again the commissioner has been reluctant or incapable of rectifying rampant problems within his department,” Corrado said. “It’s clear he is not up to the task. It is time for him to move on.”

Corrado slammed Murphy for not Hicks.

“The Governor has refused to take action, even after recent news of criminal charges filed by the attorney general related to the brutal abuse of inmates at the women’s facility,” Corrado stated. “It looks like it’s up to the Legislature to do the right thing and show Hicks the door.”

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