The Assembly Women and Children Committee held a meeting on Wednesday to advance legislation aiming to reform the prison system in New Jersey after concerning reports of abuse at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
The five bills address several aspects of the issue, such as the need for enhanced reporting, accuracy and fairness in criminal investigations, as well as better conditions and improved operations in correctional facilities throughout the state.
Chairwoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester) opened the committee meeting with the following remarks:
“Today we continue our efforts to change New Jersey’s prison system for the better. The recent investigative report into the disturbing incident at Edna Mahan this January has only further highlighted the need for significant reforms in our correctional facilities. Although this particular facility will be closing due to its long and horrific history of abuse, we must ensure these issues do not befall any other correctional facility.
“It is our solemn duty as legislative representatives to protect and uphold the rights of everyone in our state. That includes the many prisoners in our care – all of whom deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully.
“The legislation we consider here today will help ensure greater veracity and efficiency in our criminal justice system by focusing on ways we can better understand and improve our prisons.
“Furthermore, we will also be advancing bills that serve as a significant step in the right direction to making childcare more sustainable for providers in our State. This legislation has been a long time coming. I am grateful for the input of every stakeholder, because we would not be here today without your testimony and dedication.
“I am proud of the work this committee has done, and look forward to moving these bills today.”
The following measures were advanced:
- A-5752 (Mosquera, McKnight, Jimenez & Murphy) – Requires Commissioner of Corrections to appoint workforce skills training development officer to administer, enhance and supplement inmate workforce skills training programming;
- A-5753 (Chiaravalloti, Chaparro, Mejia & Murphy) – Requires request for proposal to establish project to evaluate and make recommendations for realignment of correctional facilities and other efficiency measures;
- A-5754 (Johnson, Spearman, Wimberly & Lopez) – Requires DOC to report certain information annually;
- A-5755 (Lopez, Conaway, Taliaferro & Murphy) – Requires Corrections Ombudsperson to review criminal investigations under certain circumstances; and
- A-5756 (McKnight, Speight, Lopez & Murphy) – Prohibits forfeiture of inmate’s commutation credits for minor disciplinary infractions and expands inmate’s ability to restore certain forfeited credits.