New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

Senator Michael Testa

Testa Calls Gag Order on Released Prisoners Unjustifiable

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Says NJDOC Has Failed to Protect Both Corrections Officers and Inmates from Life Threatening Virus

Senator Michael Testa today said the New Jersey Department of Correction’s attempt to prevent temporarily furloughed prisoners from speaking to the press is part of an unsettling trend.

Sen. Testa criticized the New Jersey Department of Corrections and Commissioner Hicks for failing to take adequate precautions to protect corrections officers and prison inmates during the COVID-19 crisis. (©iStock)

“DOC and commissioner Marcus Hicks have a track record of failing both their correction officers and inmates,” said Senator Testa (R-1). “Slapping gag orders on prisoners as a condition of release is unnecessary, and it blocks the true story of what is happening behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic. One may wonder, why the administration is afraid to allow inmates speak freely to the press?”

At least sixteen prisoners have died from the virus, and the state is temporarily releasing “low risk” inmates over concerns of the spread of the virus in the prisons.

A news report Thursday said to qualify for medical leave, the New Jersey Department of Corrections tried to require inmates to agree to a long list of conditions, including a ban on speaking to the media. A violation would result in the leave being revoked.

“I have called for an investigation of the Department of Corrections for their lack of transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Testa added. “Yesterday’s news of a gag order clearly shows that an investigation is necessary. The lives of our community members should not be collateral damage because of the Departments mishandling of the crisis.

“What are they trying to hide?”

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