NJ NAACP provides testimony on reports of alleged sexual abuse at women's prison

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Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Google Maps)

Urban News Staff Reports

NJ NAACP State Conference Rick Robinson and the Newark NAACP Criminal Justice Committees recently testified to address last month's Department of Justice (DOJ) report that indicates the staff of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Woman is still engaging in the unlawful behavior of allegedly raping women inmates.

“Any person suspected of wrongdoing, arrested by our Law Enforcement agencies, delivered to our court system and sanctioned to our Correction institutions should not be fearful of his/her safety nor be subjected to acts of rape or other sexual acts of abuse,“ said John, Smith, 3rd Vice President of the Newark NAACP.
 
In April, the DOJ report found numerous violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) at Edna Mahan. The DOJ's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey recently concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the conditions at the prison y violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of New Jersey initiated the investigation in April 2018 under CRIPA, which authorizes the department to take action to address a pattern or practice of deprivation of constitutional rights of individuals confined to state or local government-run correctional facilities.

“There is no way that this type of behavior should go unpunished and an immediate convening of a task force to address the problems with logical solutions is desperately needed.  Please understand, we are speaking of state-paid employees allegedly raping and sexually abusing women in prison, where they are supposed to be protected and learn from their mistakes.  The mistake here is for a woman inmate to be assigned to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women-that is the biggest mistake said”, Deborah Smith Gregory, President of the Newark NAACP. 
 
Numerous current and former inmate-victims at Edna Mahan have spoken out through their attorneys in support of the DOJ Report. Several victims who are plaintiffs in pending civil lawsuits against the Hunterdon County prison and state Department of Corrections," said they welcomed the "thorough investigation and report that demonstrates to the public and legislators the extent to which a longstanding and toxic atmosphere of sexual discrimination has existed at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility."

"You get so used to living in fear, including fear of the truth getting out, that I never thought this day would come," said former Edna Mahan inmate Marianne Brown, a plaintiff in the proposed class-action. "Our work isn't over because the people in charge still haven't accepted responsibility for years of inmate suffering, physically and psychologically." 

Another former inmate, identified as A.F. in the lawsuit to protect her privacy, and who was assaulted by a corrections officer while at Edna Mahan, said, "The report captured exactly what it was like at the prison. I hope no one else at Edna Mahan ever has to go through what we did." And a third former inmate, identified as C.C. in the lawsuit, added, "I was so happy because I never thought I would see the day when the abuse at Edna Mahan would be out in the open."

In response to the allegations, the state's Department of Corrections (DOC) said the alleged sexual abuse happened during the previous administration, according to reports.

“We are looking to partner with the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJ DOC) to try to foster change and establish an environment of safety & fairness.  The NAACP is the oldest civil rights organization in the world and we believe our experience will undoubtedly prove to be effective in planning, developing and executing plan-of-action projects to thwart these types of problems-In other words, we request a seat at the table”, said Robinson.

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