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Vainieri Huttle, Lopez & Quijano Measure Creating ‘Commission to Protect Inmates from Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct’ Passes Assembly

Legislation Spurred by Edna Mahan Correctional Facility Abuses

Following several cases of sexual misconduct and abuse by Edna Mahan Correctional Facility officers and staff, a joint resolution (AJR-134) to create a 17-member commission to investigate the sexual victimization of inmates in New Jersey correctional facilities and make policy recommendations was approved 77-0 in the full Assembly on Monday. The resolution now heads to the Senate for further review.

Sponsors of the measure released the following statements:

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen): “The commission and its investigation will be crucial in laying the groundwork for reforms that better protect the civil rights and liberties of all those incarcerated in New Jersey. By identifying how and why sexual misconduct continues to happen behind bars, we aim to disrupt the truly disturbing culture of sexual abuse and create a roadmap for the path forward.”

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex): “All aspects of prison culture need to support rehabilitation. Women and men in custody deserve to feel safe, supported and hopeful for the future ahead – it’s a matter of social justice and basic dignity. Under this measure, we would be taking the first step toward stronger safeguards improving both the safety and well-being of all who are serving time.”

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union): “Under no circumstance should anyone have their bodily autonomy compromised or their person violated. Sexual violence in all its forms is completely abhorrent. By convening a panel of experts and advocates to conduct thorough assessments of current policies, we aim to correct systemic failures, guard against future abuse and assure victims are being given access to support services.”