New Jersey closes its solely girls’s jail after rampant guard abuse: NPR

NJ Gov Phil Murphy, seen above on December 15, 2020, announced the closure of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for women. The prison has “a long history of abusive incidents,” he said. Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images Hide caption

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NJ Gov Phil Murphy, seen above on December 15, 2020, announced the closure of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for women. The prison has “a long history of abusive incidents,” he said.

Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Jersey will close its only prison for women after years of documented physical and sexual mistreatment of inmates by guards.

Governor Phil Murphy announced in a press release on Monday his intention to close the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and its nearly 400 Detainees in a new facility or other existing facilities.

“The Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility has a long history of abusive incidents before our government and we must now commit to breaking this pattern of misconduct completely in order to better serve incarcerated women in the care of the state,” said the Democratic governor in a statement.

The move came the same day the governor’s office published its findings in reports of brutal cell extractions that took place in prison on Jan. 11, first reported by NJ Advance Media, in which female prisoners sustained injuries ranging from scratches up to a broken eye socket.

The administration’s report, authored by the law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP, found that prison staff used excessive force to remove the women from their cells and then made false reports about the incidents.

The New Jersey Attorney General has now charged 10 law enforcement officers with misconduct and other crimes as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the January 11th incident.

Calls for a culture change

Nafeesah A. Goldsmith, chairwoman of New Jersey Prison Justice Watch, said she was not against the closure of Edna Mahan but suggested simply moving inmates to another facility would not end the abuse of female prisoners.

“You have to change the culture,” she said. “No change of scenery.”

Goldsmith, who was incarcerated in Edna Mahan for nearly 13 years prior to his release in 2017, also called for better training of correctional officers and more independent oversight of the prison system.

In 2020, federal investigators concluded that sexual abuse was systemic in Edna Mahan, and in April the state law enforcement officer, Marcus Hicks, announced that New Jersey was entering into a consent decree with the Justice Department likely to include federal observers in prison would.

The NJ Department of Corrections also announced earlier this year that it had agreed to pay nearly $ 21 million to resolve 22 civil claims against the state over allegations of sexual abuse and harassment in the troubled correctional facility.

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