Gov. Murphy orders Edna Mahan women’s prison closed following scathing report
Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered the closure of New Jersey’s only women’s prison following a highly-anticipated report exposing abuse and administrative failure.
The governor did not say how long it will take to close the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, nor did he say if he will finally fire embattled Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks.
“I’ve just made a decision. Enough. We’re turning the page,” Murphy said Monday. “This is a multi-year process. You can’t just flip a light switch. I think New York City is in an eight-year process with Rikers Island. Please God, I hope we get this done a lot faster than that.”
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for Hicks to be fired and a bipartisan group in the state Assembly wants to impeach him and have him removed from office. Murphy neither praised or condemned Hicks.
“This is a very disturbing report and we continue, I continue, to parse through it and work through what we’re going to do to react to it,” Murphy said.
But some lawmakers question if closing the prison is the right thing to do.
“I’m not sure closing the only women’s prison in the state is an answer to the problem,” says Republican state Sen. Kristin Corrado. “The building didn’t fail these women, the administration did.”
Corrado says she's doesn't know why the governor won't act and fire Hicks.
“And there seems to be a disconnect with this administration when it comes to allegations of abuse against women. We rarely see the people who are accused held accountable,” Corrado says. “And it’s been time after time since I joined the Legislature back in 2017. We’ve seen it repeatedly. And I don’t know what the disconnect is.”
Murphy says that the process to close the prison will begin immediately.
The United States Department of Justice is negotiating a consent decree with the Corrections Department over the prison. It is unclear how that consent decree would affect the closure.