After testimony and comments from Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks and other stakeholders during Thursday’s eight-hour Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing on the conditions at the state’s only women’s prison, Senator Kristin Corrado and Senator Holly Schepisi are demanding Hicks’ ouster.
Senator Kristin Corrado and Senator Holly Schepisi called for the removal of Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks to restore public confidence after multiple reports of physical and sexual abuse of inmates at the state’s women’s prison. (SenateNJ.com)
The resignation of the ombudsman responsible for investigating problems in the state prison system was reported today, one day after the often contentious hearing.
“That’s a start, but it’s not the resignation we need to restore decency and responsiveness to the DOC,” said Corrado (R-40). “As we learn more about the deplorable environment at the Edna Mahan facility, it becomes more disturbing that the Commissioner has failed to demonstrate capable leadership. There is no justification for what has transpired at the prison, no defense for allowing the abusive conduct to persist, and no excuse for Hicks remaining in a position that he clearly is not capable of handling. It is impossible to have any confidence in his abilities going forward.”
This week, Hicks revealed that federal monitors may be placed at the prison under an agreement between the state and the Department of Justice.
That announcement followed confirmation the corrections department had agreed to a $20.8 million settlement in cases involving more than 20 current and former inmates.
“There is a disgusting track record of systemic failures at Edna Mahan,” said Schepisi (R-39). “We have learned of a lengthy list of allegations, from physical abuse, sexual abuse, and harassment. Inmates have been stripped of their civil rights and their dignity by some out-of-control correction officers with no fear of reprisal. Authority has run amok in the facility, and Hicks has stood by silently and watched it happen.”
A report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in April, 2020 cited multiple assaults on inmates and violations of their civil rights, but atrocities at the facility resurfaced in January, when two inmates were beaten and seriously injured during an “inmate extraction.”
According to published reports, one female suffered a fractured eye socket, and another was punched 28 times and left with a concussion.
“It is time for Hicks to pay the price for allowing this horrible situation to spiral out of control,” added Corrado. “Under his watch, this reprehensible and embarrassing abuse of women was continuing unchecked. The lack of accountability, the lack of concern and the lack of action demands no less than his departure. If he won’t leave on his own, it is the Governor’s responsibility to do the right thing and replace him.”
Corrado sponsors a resolution (SR-118) supporting an Assembly measure (AR-220) adopting articles of impeachment for Marcus Hicks, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
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