Murphy Says He Will Close N.J. Prison Where Women Were Abused
(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he plans to close the state’s only women’s prison where a night of violence by staff in January left some inmates injured and spurred renewed scrutiny of the facility’s troubled past.
At least 10 employees of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women are facing criminal charges after they allegedly participated in an hours-long assault on Jan. 11. Some women at the state prison were forced from their cells and beaten, according to a report by Lowenstein Sandler LLP, a law firm that was hired by New Jersey to conduct an independent inquiry. Matt Boxer, a former New Jersey state comptroller and federal prosecutor, led the investigation.
“The only path forward is to responsibly close the facility,” Murphy said in a Monday statement.
Prison employees used excessive force, filed false reports, and failed to identify a need to force women from their cells, according to a 75-page report released Monday by the governor’s office.
The report recommended that the state close the prison, citing the need for extensive renovations to the 100-year-old prison and decades of documented sexual and other abuse. The inmates should be moved to temporary quarters, investigators said, and ultimately the state should have two prisons for women so staff and inmate conflicts can be managed with transfers.
Murphy is facing no party contest in New Jersey’s Democratic primary on Tuesday in his bid for a second term in November. He said he would need lawmakers’ assistance to budget for the report’s recommendations. The prison, named for a late corrections superintendent, houses about 375 inmates.
New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and two Democratic colleagues, Teresa Ruiz and Linda Greenstein, said the governor was taking the right steps. A Republican state senator, Kristin Corrado, laid the blame on the prison scandal with the Murphy administration.
“It’s unclear how closing the facility at taxpayer expense will remedy the leadership concerns that will persist regardless of where the inmates are located,” Corrado said in a statement. “The building didn’t fail these women -- the Murphy administration did.”
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