Home>State Government>Statements on the closing of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility

Edna Mahan, superintendent of a state women's prison in Clinton, New Jersey. (Photo: M.Q. Hawkes.)

Statements on the closing of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility

By David Wildstein, June 07 2021 12:11 pm

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER LORETTA WEINBERG

“While I applaud the decision to close the Edna Mahan facility given its long, horrible track record of tolerating sexual abuse and violence toward inmates, this new report only serves to reaffirm my belief that new leadership is required across the breadth of the Department of Corrections.  I believe it is also imperative that we have a federal monitor in place to oversee the new leadership, which should be one of the principal recommendations of the consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department. Let us be clear, closing a correctional facility is one thing, but greater and more lasting reforms are needed, including updated camera protocols. We also need an independent public advocate to protect our most vulnerable citizens whether in state custody or state care, and an overall change of culture at the DOC. That change must start at the top, with the immediate resignation of Commissioner Marcus Hicks.”

SENATE MINORITY CONFERENCE LEADER KRISTIN CORRADO

“The abuses and sexual assaults that occurred at Edna Mahan were the result of poor leadership by Governor Murphy and NJDOC Commissioner Hicks and their failure to heed federal warnings or hold abusive staff accountable. It’s unclear how closing the facility at taxpayer expense will remedy the leadership concerns that will persist regardless of where the inmates are located. The building didn’t fail these women, the Murphy administration did.”


SENATE LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE CHAIR LINDA GREEENSTEIN

“This is the best and only decision to be made. The doors of Edna Mahan should be closed and the women must be transferred away from a facility where too many suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse for far too long.
“Our committee conducted hearings last spring that further documented the assaults by guards, the attempted cover-up by their colleagues and the failure by top officials to hold them accountable. As a result of what we knew about the troubled history of Mahan and the inexplicable delays in making reforms, we came to the conclusion that it should be closed.

“While the facility is being shut down, the sad and sordid history of abuse at Mahan is not over. We still need to see the consent decree with the Department of Justice and we must work to make needed reforms to the treatment of women held in the corrections system. The tragic lessons of Edna Mahan should not be lost or left behind as we ensure that nothing like this happens again and that the state’s correctional system treats women humanely.”

STATE SEN. DAWN ADDIEGO

“The Governor’s decision to close the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women is long overdue.  Senate voted unanimously four months ago to call for the transfer of the facility’s inmates, who have been subjected to sexual and physical abuse for years, culminating in the January 11 assaults that led to the indictment of nine prison officials.  It is now time for the Governor to make another decision that is long overdue, and that it is to fire Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, who showed himself unwilling or unable to address the cultural and institutional issues at Edna Mahan. The Senate voted unanimously to demand Hick’s termination, and as today’s report showed, it is time for him to go.  This failure to ensure that proper leadership was in place at a women’s prison that has been plagued by a culture of rape and abuse falls directly on Commissioner Hicks. How could this happen nine months after the U.S. Justice Department found that corrections officers routinely violated the civil and constitutional rights of women inmates?” Women inmates should not have to live in fear.”

SENATE PRESIDENT PRO-TEMPORE TERESA RUIZ

“The Governor’s announcement that he will close the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women is the right decision.  As we plan for the future, we should ensure that our women who have suffered abuse and neglect for so long can be transferred to facilities closer to their homes where they can receive support from their families and prepare for reentry into society after they have completed their sentences. As the U.S. Justice Department found in its scathing April 2020 report, Edna Mahan has a persistent and longstanding culture of abuse that has led to repeated violations of the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and of the constitutional rights of inmates. That culture is embedded so deeply within the prison that we have no choice other than to close the facility forever.”

STATE SEN. NELLIE POU

“Even as we applaud the Governor’s decision, the closure of Edna Mahan by no means closes this horrific matter.  Going forward, we need to ensure that those inmates who were abused are given the support they need, that those who perpetrated these crimes face justice, and that we immediately bring about institutional reforms to ensure that such horrendous acts never reoccur.  Today’s announcement also confirms my long-held belief that the Department of Corrections needs new leadership—immediately. We will not rest there. I intend to continue fighting for a public advocate to protect all inmates, and my colleagues and I will pursue other initiatives that will, once and for all, ensure that the women in our correctional system receive humane treatment.”

ASSEMBLYWOMAN VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

“We have seen the deplorable reports of abuse the women at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility suffered on January 11.  This facility has had far too many incidents of mistreatment toward the inmates, and we must work to ensure that these women are treated with respect.  Governor Murphy’s intention to close Edna Mahan is a step toward bettering New Jersey’s facilities and protecting basic human rights.  We must continue to create change and generate new policy to ensure these women are no longer abused by officers in charge.”

ASSEMBLYWOMAN YVONNE LOPEZ

“First and foremost, I stand with the prisoner community and am horrified by the details of the Report of Investigation on the January 11, 2021 Cell Extractions at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. It is clear from the contents of this report that there were systemic failures that led to this incident in the first place.  My colleagues and I are dedicated to exploring and taking action on the Governor’s recommendations regarding Edna Mahan. Not only will we seek fair and reasonable ways to relocate the incarcerated women in this facility, but we will continue our efforts to ensure these kinds of abuses cannot take place in any other New Jersey correctional facility.  We have a responsibility to ensure the people involved in our justice system are treated with dignity and respect. Additionally, we have a responsibility to ensure the laws we pass are adhered to and implemented. I remain committed to ensuring measures like body-worn cameras, independent oversight, and proper training of facility staff will be implemented to protect the rights of all incarcerated individuals in our state.” ||

ASSEMBLY BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR ELIANA PINTOR MARIN

“I am pleased that the Governor has determined to take decisive action to address the ongoing issues with the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. Like so many New Jerseyans, my colleagues and I were disgusted with the reports of inmate mistreatment, abuse of authority, and lack of accountability associated with that facility. I look forward to working with the Administration on a plan for a solution that first and foremost safeguards the basic human dignity of the individuals in our care, and that does so in a fiscally responsible manner.”

ASSEMBLYWOMAN JEAN STANFIELD

“Governor Murphy’s long overdue solution to the atrocities against women reported at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility is to close the building – eventually – but keep the same failed leadership?  Is he kidding?  It’s insane to believe the current commissioner, who looked the other way while a culture of rape and abuse permeated the facility, will be able to turn things around at a new facility.  Governor Murphy and the Democrats in Trenton should be ashamed.  They failed these women again.  How many second chances do they need to get this right?  It’s time to advance my impeachment resolution, now.”

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