Murphy: First phase of closing scandal-ridden NJ women’s prison is done
⭕ NJ women’s prison is being shutdown
⭕ Group of inmates has been transferred
⭕ Prison has been scandal-ridden for years
TRENTON – State officials have completed the first phase of closing New Jersey’s only women’s prison, which has been plagued by years of mistreatment scandals, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday.
In June 2021, Murphy announced his intent to shutdown the 110-year-old Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County — months after nearly a dozen corrections officers were accused of vicious lockdown assaults at the prison.
That number of officers ultimately charged increased to 14.
All minimum security inmates have been moved by the Department of Corrections to a satellite unit about five miles away, which now is housing 176 inmates on an interim basis.
Only the main facility at Edna Mahan remains open, housing the medium and maximum-security population.
⭕ More modern facilities at interim NJ women’s prison
The satellite unit is in Clinton Township, on the grounds of the former William H. Fauver Youth Correctional Facility.
It has two main buildings, with equal room for a total capacity of 384 people.
The former William H. Fauver Youth Correctional Facility was built in 1991 and offers more modern housing conditions.
That includes a temperature-controlled environment with more natural light, a newly created “Honors Dorm,” enhanced educational and social activities, more personal living and programming space and outdoor and passive recreation spaces.
Some limited vocational programs and medical services would also remain at the Edna Mahan main complex.
The first round of inmates was moved last year, in March and July 2022, due to needed repairs at Edna Mahan.
If that prison was to be kept open, at least $166 million in improvements and repairs would be needed to keep the facility functional, according to the governor’s office.
On Oct. 18, corrections staff transferred another 71 people from the main Edna Mahan prison.
Of that group, 24 women were chosen to move into the newly created “Honors Dorm.”
The housing is a “new-to-NJDOC” initiative to encourage positive behavior, pro-social interaction, and personal growth through incentives like more home-like living spaces and greater privacy.
⭕ Edna Mahan corrections officers arrested in 2021
Three corrections officers were arrested in February 2021, accused of brutal overnight beatings and assaults on Edna Mahan inmates a month prior.
⭕ Murphy, DOC Commissioner tout safety of new facility
“For two years, our Administration has worked in tandem with our partners in the Legislature and external stakeholders to determine the best way to safely and responsibly close the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility,” Murphy said in a written statement, continuing “The completion of the first phase in this plan moves us closer to the full closure of the facility.”
“The safety and well-being of our incarcerated population is of the utmost importance. As they continue to do the necessary work to rehabilitate their lives, our Administration will continue to work to provide them a safe and secure environment to do so.”
DOC Commissioner Victoria Kuhn also weighed in on the first step of the Mahan closure, noting planning continues for a new women’s prison.
“While this relocation is temporary until a more modern and purpose-built facility can be constructed, the Satellite provides a better living and working environment with more normative conditions that are conducive to rehabilitation, reentry, and enhanced safety and security,” Kuhn said.
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