The burgeoning scandal at a woman’s prison, where guards have been accused of beating and sexually assaulting female inmates, has emerged as a campaign issue in the race in the hotly contested State Senate race in 8th legislative district.
State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) has accused her Republican opponent, State Sen. Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton), of raising money off the scandal by sending out a fundraising email highlighting her bid to impeach the head of the state prison system.
“This is one of the most disgusting acts imaginable. The women at the Edna Mahan facility have been systematically assaulted both physically and sexually, and there is no more craven action than attempting to profit off this crisis,” said Addiego. “I am shocked someone would look at abuse toward women and see dollar signs.”
Stanfield used the scandal in a pitch to donors.
“A woman beaten within an inch of her life while chained to a wall. Another assaulted until her eye-socket shattered. Rampant and serialized sexual assault,” Stanfield wrote. “It happened on state Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks’ watch – despite the Department of Justice sounding the alarm. So, why is Governor (Phil) Murphy protecting him?”
Stanfield’s fundraising email sought contributions to “help me stand up for those victims and hold the Murphy administration accountable.”
Addiego wants Stanfield to apologize and “return the blood money.”
Stanfield announced her plans last week to impeach Hicks, who manages the embattled Edna Mahan Correction Facility in Clinton.
A U.S. Department of Justice report excoriated the facility for a long trail of abuses last year, and the state attorney general filed criminal charges against last week against three correctional offices, but Hicks has not resigned, and Murphy has not fired him.
Addiego was one of 25 Demcoratic senators to sign a letter calling for Hicks’ resignation.
“Having served in the Legislature with Jean Stanfield, I’m not surprised to see Jean’s true colors as an opportunist and hypocrite,” Addiego said. “She only uses her voice for her own self-serving politics – that much is now indisputable.”
Republicans have accused Addiego of not doing enough to put pressure on Murphy to force Hicks’ ouster.
“Trenton politicians like Dawn Addiego who remain indifferent on accountability at DOC are hindering the pursuit of justice for the victims at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility,” said Dan Scharfenberger, the executive director of Senate Republican Majority. “Addiego needs to either lead, follow or get out of the way.”
Addiego was a longtime GOP officeholder who switched parties in 2019. She’s seeking re-election as a Democrat in a district her party hasn’t won since 1973.
In what is expected to be a hugely competitive race, Addiego hit her former running mate – Stanfield was the Burlington County sheriff when Addiego was a freeholder — hard.
“Shame on Jean Stanfield’s lack of humanity. She has shown herself to be morally bankrupt and her previously expressed concerns over this issue have been outed as fraudulent,” Addiego said. “As Legislators, we hold a sacred public trust to protect vulnerable citizens and provide needed oversight to abuses of power, and Jean has violated that trust in the most baseless and despicable way possible.”