TRENTON – A joint resolution sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez that would create the “Commission to Protect Inmates in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility from Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct” was passed by the Senate today.
The resolution, SJR-74, would create a seventeen-member committee that would investigate sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations made against the Edna Mahan correctional staff by the inmates. The seventeen-member commission created under the joint resolution would be comprised of:
- two Senators from different parties
- two members of the General Assembly from different parties
- four ex officio members or their designees, including the Commissioner of Corrections, the Attorney General, the Director of the Division on Women, and the Public Defender
- nine public members appointed by the Governor
The commission would assess the degree of the facility’s compliance with the provisions of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, examine the current policy and procedures for investigating allegations, explore the feasibility of increasing female-to-male staff and the appropriateness of establishing a citizen oversight, and assistance is needed from the Prison Rape Elimination Act research center.
The Commission would analyze current Department of Correction policies and procedures and determine how they can be modified to improve the safety and well-being of the inmates.
“The treatment of the inmates by the Edna Mahan staff is absolutely outrageous,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Oversight of this facility is warranted due to the continuing trend of abuse of authority by those in power. It is a shame that those employed to keep peace, enforce order, and prevent inmates from causing each other harm are the ones committing these deplorable actions. The establishment of this commission is imperative to ensuring that professional conduct and treatment of these women takes place.”
“The number of criminal investigations against Edna Mahan employees is continuously increasing,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Twelve employees were fired because of their sexual misconduct in the last few years. There is no place for this type of behavior and abuse of power. These women need protection and this commission will make sure they are provided that protection and will see the end to this heinous abuse.”
The bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 39-0.