Greenstein, Cruz-Perez Bills Addressing Mistreatment of Inmates Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez that would require the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy to provide services to female inmates passed the Senate today.

“Those incarcerated within our criminal justice system must be treated with the same decency and respect as all other New Jerseyans,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “If women are abused or harassed by a corrections officer, they should feel safe reporting what happened.”

“We cannot allow incidents of sexual abuse or misconduct in our prisons to go unreported,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Allowing inmates to report to a neutral third party will help ensure that what happened at Edna Mahan doesn’t happen again.”

The bill, S-2533, would require the State Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy to ensure the rights of female inmates who are the victims of crime.

In consultation with the Commissioner of Corrections, the office would create standards to make sure the victims’ rights are enforced. The standards would include unannounced facility tours, and random surveys to identify inmates who are victims of sexual assault or misconduct which has not been reported. An inmate who is a victim would be informed of and provided with services offered by the office.

The bill would also require copies of the law be provided to inmate housing unit liaisons in the correctional facility. Housing liaisons would also be provided with a summary of the services provided by the office, which they would distribute to the inmates in the housing unit.

The bill cleared the Senate today by a vote of 39-0.