NJ Senate passes measure seeking to oust state corrections chief

New Jersey
Edna Mahan

FILE – This photo from Monday June 21, 2004, shows inmate Mary Tobin walking a puppy down a cell block hallway at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J. Three prison guards are charged with misconduct stemming from a violent attack on at least six female inmates at the prison, including one who was punched 28 times and pepper-sprayed, New Jersey’s attorney general said Thursday. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey’s state Senate passed a resolution seeking the resignation or removal of the state’s top prison official after news that three male guards are charged with misconduct in an attack on female inmates.

The Democrat-led Senate passed the bipartisan resolution 35-0 Friday.

It calls on Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks to resign or be removed from his post.

A message seeking comment was left with Hicks’ spokesperson, as well as with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who has authority to remove the commissioner.

The state attorney general says the state’s lone women’s prison was the site of an attack on inmates by guards in January.

The resolution was sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Dawn Addiego and Republican Sen. Kristin Corrado.

“The most egregious part is that it all could have been avoided had Commissioner Hicks agreed to the Department of Justice’s proposed settlement, which would most likely have brought federal monitors into Edna Mahan whose presence might have discouraged the brutal Jan. 11 assaults,” said Addiego, referring to a recommendation to let the feds take over the facility. “He delayed these changes for months, and we still do not have a consent agreement. Commissioner Hicks has blood on his hands and it is unacceptable that over a month after the attack he has yet to take responsibility for his failures as commissioner and resign.”

Corrado also called for Hicks to either resign or be replaced by Gov. Murphy.

“The unspeakable atrocities at Edna Mahan leave no doubt that it is time for the commissioner to go,” said Corrado. “It is a travesty that the Governor refuses to hold his administration accountable for failures. Unfortunately, it has come to this. Until Hicks is replaced, it will be impossible to restore trust in the corrections system.”

The resolution also calls on Murphy to transfer inmates to a safe facility and demands the Department of Corrections comply with the recommendations of the US Department of Justice which were issued more than six months ago.

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