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New Jersey will close its only women’s prison after years of documented physical and sexual abuse of inmates by guards.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday announced in a statement his intention to close Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility and relocate its nearly 400 detained in a new facility or other existing facilities.
“Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women has a long history of abusive incidents predating our administration, and we must now commit to completely breaking this pattern of misconduct to better serve incarcerated women in state care.” , the Democratic governor said in a statement. .
The move came the same day the governor’s office released its findings in reports of brutal cell extractions inside the prison on January 11, first reported by NJ Advance Media, which left women inmates with injuries ranging from scratches to a fractured eye socket. .
The administration’s report, written by law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP, found that prison staff used excessive force to remove the women from their cells, then filed false reports about what happened .
The New Jersey attorney general’s office has now charged 10 prison officers with official misconduct and other crimes as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the January 11 incident.
Calls for a culture change
Nafeesah A. Goldsmith, president of New Jersey Prison Justice Watch, said she was not opposed to the Edna Mahan shutdown, but suggested that simply moving inmates to another facility would not end the ill-treatment inflicted on detainees.
“You have to change the culture,” she said. “Not a change of scenery.”
Goldsmith, who was incarcerated in Edna Mahan for almost 13 years before being released in 2017, also called for better training of prison officers and more independent oversight of the prison system.
In 2020, federal investigators concluded sexual abuse was systemic at Edna Mahan, and in April, state Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks announced that New Jersey was in the process of finalizing a consent decree. with the Department of Justice which would likely include federal prison monitors.
The NJ Department of Corrections also announced earlier this year that it had agreed to pay nearly $ 21 million to settle 22 civil lawsuits against the state over allegations of sexual abuse and harassment at the correctional facility in difficulty.