Edna Mahan Women’s Prison: Newly released video shows allegations of abuse at soon-to-be-closed New Jersey correctional facility

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The edited footage shows correctional officers extracting inmates from their cells, physically immobilizing inmates, beating inmates and deploying pepper spray in closed-door cells. The images were first made public through open requests for recordings made by the Associated Press and other parties.

“I just made a decision. Enough. We are turning the page,” Murphy said on June 7. “It’s a multi-year process. You just can’t flip a switch. I think New York City is in the middle of an eight-year process on Rikers Island. Please God, we’re doing it a lot faster than that. “

EMCF correctional officers were accused in the report of mistreating inmates on the night of January 11 when inmates were removed from cells after allegedly “splashing” correctional officers with bodily fluids and other unidentified fluids. The governor said that in light of the report’s findings, the “only way forward is to responsibly shut down the facility.”

The New Jersey Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the images recently released on Monday. In June, a spokesperson told CNN that the department was taking the allegations seriously.

“Upon first learning about the incident on January 11 at the Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility, the Department took swift action to suspend 34 staff members and immediately requested assistance from the Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau. of the prosecutor to investigate the conduct of potential criminals. prosecution, ”DOC spokeswoman Liz Velez told CNN last month.

What the video shows

In an edited 95-minute video obtained by CNN, several officers in riot gear are seen entering the cell of a woman, whose face is blurred. They spray her with pepper spray and one of them starts hitting and yelling at her as she seems to be trying to cover her head and face.

The video appears to be from a body-worn camera and security cameras.

The woman coughs during the encounter and screams. You can hear him at one point say, “Are you done hitting me in the face like that?” And do you like it? “

Five officers are seen dragging her from her cell into a hallway full of other officers, and one officer is heard saying, “You’re going to walk like a normal human being, do you understand?”

They take her to a medical area where she tells a woman who is not visible: “They broke my lip. They hit me in the face. They hit me in the chest. They hit me for no reason. I do not know why. I have just been assaulted. I was sleeping ; they (…) came to my room and attacked me. “

The video also shows other inmates being pepper sprayed and punched before being released from their cells. One inmate’s arm was broken, according to the report.

Officers indicted in the incident

Several correctional officers are accused of submitting false reports about what happened that night, including one who said the victim punched him in the chest, a claim that is not substantiated by video evidence at the scene, according to the attorney general’s office.

A total of 10 correctional officers face a variety of charges ranging from falsification of records and official misconduct to aggravated assault, State Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said last month. He said at the time that one inmate was punched about 28 times and another was punched while handcuffed.

The incident is just one of many reported at the facility.

Last April, the Justice Department wrote in a notice after a two-year investigation that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the conditions at the EMCF violate the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel punishment. and unusual, “because of” the sexual abuse of prisoners by institutional staff “and that” these violations are consistent with a pattern or practice of resisting the full enjoyment of the rights protected by the Eighth Amendment ” .

The DOJ wrote that the facility “does not protect victims who report abuse with excuse from retaliation,” subjects those who report sexual abuse to “harsh and segregated conditions,” and that officials The facility knew about the abuse and ignored it, among other results.

Earlier this year, a transgender woman was placed in a men’s prison after filing a complaint alleging abuse at the facility. She was transferred to an out-of-state women’s facility, according to her lawyer.

The woman had filed a complaint in March, alleging that she was one of many inmates attacked by correctional officers at the facility earlier this year, including the Jan. 11 incident.

The incident in early January sparked a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for Public Integrity and Accountability and the Hunterdon County District Attorney’s Office, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Murphy said he was “sickened by the horrific reports”, and he ordered a full independent investigation by the former state comptroller.

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