No. 108







Sponsored by:


District 8 (Atlantic, Burlington and Camden)


District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)






        Urges Commissioner of Corrections to resign or be removed for failure to protect Edna Mahan inmates, DOC to comply with Department of Justice recommendations, and Governor to transfer inmates.  



        As introduced.


A Joint Resolution urging the Commissioner of Corrections to resign or be removed, the Department of Corrections to comply with recommendations of the United States Department of Justice, and the Governor to transfer inmates to a safe facility.  


Whereas, The State   s only all-female correctional facility, Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Edna Mahan) located in Clinton, Union Township, Hunterdon County, has a long history of inmates being subjected to sexual assault and abuse at the hands of corrections officers and other staff members; and

Whereas, Between 2010 and 2016, for example, eight staff members were terminated for sexual misconduct; two male corrections officers, one each in 2018 and 2019, were convicted of official misconduct for sexually abusing multiple inmates; and one female corrections officer pled guilty to criminal sexual contact in 2019; and

Whereas, The Hunterdon County Prosecutor   s Office procured 26 indictments against four corrections officers in 2017 for sexual abuse and official misconduct and 15 indictments against one officer in 2018 based on sexual relationships he had with three inmates; and

Whereas, Responding to the horrific cases of sexual assault and abuse of inmates occurring in Edna Mahan, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee held a hearing on February 22, 2018 to hear testimony for the purpose of taking corrective action to curb this abuse; and

Whereas, Based on the legislative hearing, numerous bills were introduced to protect State-incarcerated inmates, several of which subsequently were enacted into law, including legislation that:  1) requires employees to report abuse and establishes a reporting and investigation program; 2) limits cross gender strip searches; 3) requires corrections officers to receive 20 hours in-service training on topics such as prevention of sexual misconduct, non-fraternization, and manipulation; 4) requires the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy to participate in ensuring the rights of female crime victims; 4) establishes the    Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caretaker Parents Act;    and 5) establishes a commission to study sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment by staff against inmates; and  

Whereas, In April 2020, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the United States Attorney   s Office District of New Jersey (U.S. Attorney) published a report entitled    Investigation of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Union Township, New Jersey) that was highly critical of the Department of Corrections    (DOC) oversight of the Edna Mahan facility; and

Whereas, The DOJ and U.S. Attorney report concluded that there is
reasonable cause to believe conditions at Edna Mahan violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution due to facility staff sexually abusing inmates and that the sexual abuse was pursuant to a pattern or practice of staff resistance to the inmate   s full enjoyment of these Eighth Amendment rights; and

Whereas, In response to the DOJ   s and U.S. Attorney   s scathing criticism of the DOC, its operation of the facility, and its failure to protect the inmates from sexual assault and abuse, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee held a second hearing in May 2020 to hear testimony on the DOJ   s and U.S. Attorney   s investigation and the causes and consequences of sexual abuse at Edna Mahan; and

Whereas, The Chairwoman of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, Senator Linda R. Greenstein, requested that the Commissioner of Corrections, Marcus O. Hicks, Esq., appear before the committee, but not only did the commissioner refuse to attend, he also failed to provide requested information to the committee; and

Whereas, The Commissioner of Corrections has claimed to have addressed many of the concerns set forth in the DOJ report and that he continues to monitor and evaluate the facility   s operations, programs, and services to ensure the safety of the Edna Mahan inmates; and

Whereas, Reportedly, the DOC has reached a tentative agreement with the DOJ to take certain remedial action and implement specific recommendations to be overseen and supervised by federal monitors; and

Whereas, Despite the ongoing increased scrutiny of the operations of the Edna Mahan facility, new allegations of the mistreatment of inmates in Edna Mahan surfaced this week involving   approximately 30 staff members who have been suspended and are being investigated for severely beating at least three inmates by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor and the Attorney General   s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, which investigates excessive use of force by law enforcement; and

Whereas, Reportedly, one inmate suffered a broken eye socket and another transgender inmate was handcuffed and beaten so severely   that she cannot walk and is confined to a wheelchair; and

Whereas, The Commissioner of Correction   s failure to protect inmates in Edna Mahan from sexual assault, physical assaults, and other abuses at the hands of corrections officers and other staff members violates the constitutional rights of these inmates as documented in the April 2020 DOJ and U.S. Attorney report; and

Whereas, The Attorney General of New Jersey has charged three corrections officers, two of whom were supervisors, with official misconduct in connection with the latest abuse of Edna Mahan inmates and one of these officers also was charged with aggravated assault; and

Whereas, New Jersey legislators have called for the Commissioner
of Corrections and the head administrator of Edna Mahan to be suspended until a complete and thorough investigation of the alleged physical assaults has been conducted; and

Whereas, The Commissioner of Corrections repeatedly has demonstrated his inability to properly manage the operations of a department that oversees approximately 20,000 inmates in 12 State correctional facilities, as well as county jails and halfway houses; and

Whereas, This House refuses to stand idly by while voiceless and defenseless female inmates in Edna Mahan repeatedly are victimized by those very persons who are charged with their protection and care; and

Whereas, The violations of law and of basic human rights that have been allowed to continue under the leadership of Commissioner Hicks must end now and, therefore, it is altogether necessary and proper for the commissioner to resign or be removed, the DOJ to take temporary control of the operations of the Edna Mahan facility, and the inmates to be transferred to a facility where their safety and security can be safeguarded and their rehabilitative needs met; now, therefore,


        Be It Resolved by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


        1.       This House strongly urges the New Jersey Commissioner of Corrections, Marcus O. Hicks, Esq., to immediately resign or be removed from his position due to his failure to protect the inmates in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women from sexual assault, beatings, and other physical and mental abuse inflicted by correctional police officers and other staff members.