Feds Find NJ Prison Violated Constitutional Rights of Women

NEWARK, N.J. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division today concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the conditions at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, New Jersey violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Specifically, the Department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that Edna Mahan fails to protect prisoners from sexual abuse by the facility’s staff.

As required by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), the Department provided the facility with written notice of the supporting facts for these alleged conditions and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address them.

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“Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in any setting, including in prisons and jails,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said. “We have been encouraged by the State’s cooperation throughout our investigation, and stated commitment to ending sexual abuse at Edna Mahan. We hope to continue to work with New Jersey to resolve these significant concerns.”

“The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees prisoners reasonable safety from harm,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said. “Sexual abuse should not be a part of any prisoner’s punishment. Our investigation found reasonable cause to conclude that women prisoners at Edna Mahan are at substantial risk of sexual abuse by staff because systemic deficiencies discourage prisoners from reporting sexual abuse and allow sexual abuse to occur undetected and undeterred.”

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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.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Horan Florio, Civil Rights Unit; Mary Bohan, Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section; and Kerry Krentler Dean, Trial Attorney, Special Litigation Section.

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Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash