TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered an independent investigation into a New Jersey correctional facility accused of abusing female inmates.
The Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County recently suspended dozens of staff members after a report by NJ.com alleging that at least three women at the facility were hurt by officers Jan. 11. The report focused on “one inmate who now has a broken eye socket and a transgender woman beaten so badly she cannot walk and is now in a wheelchair.”
Twenty officers were suspended, as well as some supervisors and an associate administrator, NJ PBA Local 105 President William Sullivan told PIX11 News.
Murphy called the abuses described in the report “horrific” and vowed an investigation.
“I am sickened by the horrific reports of what happened at Edna Mahan on Jan. 11. Let me be clear: every individual in state custody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and we must always remember that female inmates have long been uniquely vulnerable to abuse,” he said. “I know [Department of Corrections] Commissioner [Marcus] Hicks took immediate actions and placed a number of staff on leave, and I support these steps, but we must go further.”
Former State Comptroller Matt Boxer was put in charge of the investigation.
State Sen. Kristin Corrado, a Republican, claimed Murphy was long overdue in taking action.
“Gov. Murphy has repeatedly been unwilling to listen to warnings or concerns that people tried to bring to his attention, leading to additional acts of brutality and victimization against women,” said Corrado. “Additionally, it’s beyond disappointing that New Jersey taxpayers will have to shell out for another expensive investigation because Gov. Murphy’s reaction is to circle the wagons rather than hold his team accountable like a real leader would do.”
State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said the assembly will hold hearings as part of their own investigation into the facility.
“I am extremely disturbed about the continued allegations of abuse at Edna Mahan,” Coughlin said in a statement. “A pattern has developed at the facility and those supervising it are not doing nearly enough to protect its vulnerable inmates. We need answers and we need reform.”