Federal Investigation Report Concludes Women at NJ Prison Suffered Serious Harm from Staff Sexual Abuse
Date:  04-15-2020

Incarcerated women were sexually assaulted by prison staff and forced to have sex with other incarcerated women as staff watched
The summary of a report from the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey:

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey (Department) provide notice, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 et seq. (CRIPA), that there is reasonable cause to believe, based on the totality of the conditions, practices, and incidents discovered that: (1) conditions at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Edna Mahan) violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution due to the sexual abuse of prisoners by the facility’s staff; and (2) these violations are pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights protected by the Eighth Amendment. The Department does not serve as a tribunal authorized to make factual findings and legal conclusions binding on, or admissible in, any court, and nothing in this Notice of Investigative Conclusions (Notice) should be construed as such. Accordingly, this Notice is not intended to be admissible evidence and does not create any legal rights or obligations.

Specifically, the United States provides notice that the State of New Jersey, through the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC), fails to keep prisoners at Edna Mahan safe from sexual abuse by staff. From October 2016 to November 2019, five Edna Mahan correction officers and one civilian employee were convicted or pled guilty to charges related to sexual abuse of more than 10 women under their watch. For example:

  • In May 2018, an Edna Mahan correction officer was found guilty of five counts of sexually abusing prisoners. According to the sentencing judge, the “pervasive culture” at Edna Mahan allowed this correction officer to abuse his “position of authority to indulge in [his] own sexual stimulation.”

  • In July 2018, another Edna Mahan correction officer pled guilty to three counts of official misconduct after he admitted sexually abusing three separate prisoners.

  • In January 2019, another correction officer pled guilty to official misconduct charges after admitting that he repeatedly sexually abused two Edna Mahan prisoners over a period of several years. In sentencing him, the New Jersey court concluded that the officer had “sexually assaulted a vulnerable population.”

    Another Edna Mahan correction officer has been indicted for charges related to sexual abuse of prisoners and is pending trial. Long-standing problems with staff sexual abuse at Edna Mahan have been documented for decades. Despite being on notice of this sexual abuse, NJDOC and Edna Mahan failed to take timely action to remedy the systemic problems that enabled correction officers and other staff to continue to sexually abuse Edna Mahan prisoners. Women have suffered actual harm from sexual abuse and are at substantial risk of serious harm because the systems in place at Edna Mahan discourage prisoners from reporting sexual abuse and allow sexual abuse to occur undetected and undeterred.

    Consistent with the statutory requirements of CRIPA, we write this Notice to notify New Jersey of the Department’s conclusions with respect to these constitutional violations, the facts supporting those conclusions, and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address the identified deficiencies. Read the full report here.