Latest Incident of Violence is More Proof that Transformational Change is Required
National Organization for Women of New Jersey is calling for more than just answers after reports surfaced of inmates being attacked by officers on the night of January 11, 2021. The inmates of Edna Mahan Correctional Facility deserve justice. It is shameful that this facility continues to be a hot-bed of scandal, abuse, and assault despite multiple investigations, reports and recommendations for reform. While we acknowledge that the investigation may have been hampered due to allegations of cover-ups by corrections officers, the Department of Corrections must be held accountable for its failure to institute reforms and protect the inmates. We demand full accounting of the events of January 11 and 12.
Reports of systemic violence at the Clinton, NJ facility are not new. Former inmates and advocates have been raising the need for transformational change for many years. Serious allegations of a culture of sexual abuse led the US Department of Justice to conclude in April, 2020 “that the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the prison had violated the inmates’ constitutional protections from cruel and unusual punishment.” The report includes 19 specific remedial measures to implement. In addition, the “Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caretaker Parents Act,” signed into law in January, 2020, substantially increases the scope and powers of the existing Office of the Corrections Ombudsperson to identify issues and investigate complaints regarding the treatment of prisoners.
It is apparent that neither the recommendations in the DOJ report nor the provisions of the new law have been realized. We need full transparency on reform measures that have been enacted and answers on what is holding up full implementation. We applaud Attorney General Grewal for his swift action that led to the arrest of three officers and await the results of the independent investigation initiated by Governor Murphy and the hearings that Assembly Speaker Coughlin has committed to.
Linda Weber, Legislative Vice-President of NOW New Jersey said, “The unabated pattern of violence against women at Edna Mahan is extremely disturbing and must be halted. All persons responsible at all levels within the Department of Corrections must be held accountable and the prison must address the problems immediately. All New Jerseyans regardless of their status deserve compassion and basic dignity.“
National Organization for Women remains committed to ending all forms of violence against women and strongly holds that these victims deserve justice. It must start with accountability leading to lasting change at Edna Mahan.
Download the press release here.