Justice for all incarcerated at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility
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On January 11, 2021 at least three women incarcerated at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility (EMCF) in Clinton, NJ were physically and sexually assaulted by multiple corrections officers and suffered severe injuries. In one instance, a transgender woman was allegedly handcuffed before being pushed to the ground to have her head stomped on by officers while others hit her. She now cannot walk and must use a wheelchair.
There is a long history of rampant physical, sexual, and psychological abuse as well as the denial of basic human rights at EMCF. A recent U.S. Department of Justice report noted numerous instances where EMCF staff violated the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and documented a systemic abuse of power and control. In July 2020, the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics held a public listening session and heard from former inmates, who corroborated the U.S. Department of Justice report. Furthermore, these women recounted instances where corrections officers retaliated against prisoners who made complaints. Clearly, EMCF lacks proper management and oversight and is incapable of ensuring the safety of those under state custody.
As of today, 32 officers, supervisors, and other staff have been put on paid administrative leave and a criminal investigation is underway at EMCF. This is not enough to ensure justice for the women who were brutalized in this recent attack and all those who have been subject to violence while incarcerated at EMCF. Therefore, we endorse the demands made by New Jersey’s 25 Democratic Senators as well as those first made by Senators Greenstein and Weinberg:
- The immediate resignation of Corrections Commissioner Hicks and the current EMCF administrator.
- Federal control of operations at EMCF and supervision over all programs for those who are incarcerated in its facilities.
- The creation of an independent review board for EMCF, including the formerly incarcerated, to confidentially receive complaints from those currently undergoing victimization and share those complaints with the United States Department of Justice as well as the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General for further investigation, as was recommended in the Report of the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics.
We also demand:
- The provision of comprehensive, long-term medical care for the women injured in the January 11 attack, including trauma-informed mental health counseling.
- Restitution for all who have been physically and psychologically harmed while incarcerated at EMCF. This includes the issuance of a public apology by Commissioner Hicks and the implementation of a public process of holding Commissioner Hicks and the EMCF administrator accountable for the violence which occurred on their watch to be determined by the currently and formerly incarcerated.
- An updated independent and thorough investigation of violence and other harmful practices at EMCF guided by the currently and formerly incarcerated which will be presented to the newly created review board.
- The immediate, full enactment of already existing legislation designed to safeguard the wellbeing of the incarcerated such as the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act.
Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal, your administration has taken the position of ending mass incarceration and reforming solitary confinement. Nevertheless, the lived experience of incarceration has not changed. The conditions of confinement in New Jersey remain unconscionable and continue to be perpetuated by a lack of transparency, accountability, and conscience from those in state leadership. They are also the result of wider interlocking systems of capitalism and white supremacy which must be deliberately dismantled. We demand immediate action towards meaningful redress for the women at EMCF and all who have been impacted by incarceration in New Jersey.
All of Us or None - Northern NJ
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