UPDATE: A total of 29 officers and supervisors at New Jersey's notorious prison for women have been suspended amid a criminal investigation of allegations that several inmates were beaten, Daily Voice has learned.
Among those on paid administrative leave at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Hunterdon County were an associate administrator, two corrections majors, a corrections lieutenant, five corrections sergeants and 20 corrections officers, according to a memo obtained by Daily Voice.
UPDATE: Gov. Phil Murphy appointed a special investigator Wednesday to probe allegations that several inmates were beaten at New Jersey's notorious prison for women.
The Jan. 11 incident apparently involved inmates in "administrative segregation" and officers in riot gear, a corrections source said.
The inmates were accused of tossing urine and other items at corrections officers, he said, adding that it “went downhill from there.”
Administrative segregation -- or ADSEG -- is a form of disciplinary detention that stops short of solitary confinement, prison officials say.
Last year, a 43-year-old Edna Mahan inmate died of COVID-19 complications after she was moved into solitary confinement from a quarantine area despite what some said was a persistence in her symptoms.
Located off Route 78 in Clinton, Edna Mahan has long been considered “out of control, improperly managed, and clearly an abusive danger to the women locked up behind its walls,” state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Chair Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer) wrote in a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy.
Several correctional police officers at the facility have been charged with sexual assault or misconduct over the past decade, the senators noted.
“In July 2020, the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics held a public listening session and heard from former inmates, who corroborated the U.S. Department of Justice report,” they added in Monday's letter. “Furthermore, these women recounted instances where corrections officers retaliated against prisoners who would make complaints.”
Corrections officials last year promised a change in culture at the prison, which holds 550 or so women. They said they’d been working with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle federal allegations of violating inmates' civil rights by not protecting them from systematic abuse by guards and a “brotherhood of silence.”
Then came this month’s incident, first reported Monday by NJ Advance Media.
Family members and advocates contended that the incident left one inmate with a broken eye socket and a transgender inmate in a wheelchair following a beating that involved both officers and inmates.
The state Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability was investigating along with the Corrections Department and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, corrections spokeswoman Liz Velez wrote in an email published by NJ Advance Media.
The Corrections Department “will not tolerate such behavior,” Velez reportedly wrote.
“If wrongdoing is found, the Department shall address it in an expeditious and appropriate manner,” the reported email said, adding that an internal investigation would also seek to “hold people accountable.”SEE: Dozens suspended at N.J. prison after officers are accused of beating women inmates
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.