(TRENTON) – Taking action to address an alarming number of cases of sexual abuse at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in the past decade outlined in a recent federal report, Governor Phil Murphy on Monday signed a measure (formerly AJR-167) to create a commission to study sexual assault, misconduct and harassment by staff against incarcerated individuals in State correctional facilities. The new law is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex) and Carol Murphy (D-Burlington).
The April report released by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey revealed more than 70 documented investigations into potential staff misconduct. It concluded that there are long-standing, systemic problems involving sexual abuse by staff members that both the facility and the NJ Department of Corrections (NJDOC) have failed to remedy.
The measure signed into law today creates a 17-member commission comprised of State leaders and members of the public to examine issues affecting the safety and rights of incarcerated individuals in State correctional facilities.
Assemblywomen Vainieri Huttle, Tucker and Murphy released the following joint statement:
“The reports of rampant sexual misconduct and abuse in Edna Mahan are truly appalling. The individuals in our state prisons are under our care, which means the treatment they receive is a reflection on New Jersey as a whole. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. There is no place for abuse and mistreatment within our criminal justice system. Not only do we need to hold abusers accountable for their actions, but we need to ensure abuse is prevented from ever happening in the first place.”