New Jersey will close its only women’s penitentiary after an independent investigation into “cell extractions” and violence against prisoners, which has led to criminal charges.
At least 10 warders at the Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility have been charged with a state investigation into attacks on prisoners on January 11. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that he intends to close the restaurant, though he did not offer a schedule or plan for how that could happen.
“I am deeply concerned and disgusted by the horrific attacks that took place on January 1
Murphy also published a partially edited 75-page report on the attacks based on video evidence, emails and interviews with staff members. The report states that the extractions of cells that took place in January “were so improperly processed that they resulted in the injury of many prisoners and the final removal of 34 supervisors and EMCF staff”.
Cell extractions are not a defined policy, but “generally lead to the removal of a prisoner from the cell by an extraction team”, and extractions against a prisoner’s will “inherently” come with the expectation of the use of force, the report said. On the night of January 11, two extraction teams, dressed in riot gear and carrying pepper spray, tried to retrieve 22 prisoners, some of whom agreed.
A prisoner was taken to a room and ordered to undress with male officers present and refused. The male police officers left and the prisoner still refused, although she made an oral comment on a video showing that there may be something hidden in her genitals, according to the report.
Officers began cutting her clothes and at one point were taken to a cell where about four or five police officers, including men, were seen crowding her, but she was not visible from the camera, the report said. She remained unconscious and naked on the floor, and an official report said she was unharmed and refused a medical evaluation. But the nurse’s report the next day said the prisoner had scratches, visible purple bruises and a broken arm that required a cast, according to the state report.
The prisoner also told investigators that a male correctional officer “digitally infiltrated her while searching for tapes and caused vaginal bleeding.”
Another prisoner, who did not want to be removed from his cell, was sprayed with pepper and beaten “repeatedly on the face, chest and back,” the report said. When she leaves the cell, she has an open shirt and a visibly bloodied mouth, according to the videos reviewed.
Her requests to be covered up have not been answered, the report said.
She was also taken to the shower and ordered to undress in the presence of male guards. She refused, citing the Prison Rape Abolition Act, but was threatened with pepper spray. The prisoner, drawn up after being threatened by a guard, is said in the investigation report.
Although the official record of the use of force that night stated that this prisoner had not been injured either, the nurse’s medical assessment contradicted that assertion.
“However, the medical report on the spot that night stated that she had a bleeding lower lip, which can be seen in the videos,” the report said. “The next day she was examined by a nurse … who noted that she had a swollen red / purple lower lip with a small incision inside, bruises on the eye, arm and shoulder and an incision on her right arm. ”
A senior correctional officer told investigators that tonight’s footage was “one of the most disturbing series of videos I’ve seen,” the report said.
The investigation concluded that no appropriate cell extraction protocol had been established, that staff had not recorded the extractions correctly, that staff had used excessive force and that they had submitted false reports. He also found that it was not possible to prevent male officers from watching and participating in strip searches under state policy, while lying in reports of searches carried out only by female staff.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Greval has charged 10 correctional staff members, eight men and two women, and said his cabinet will continue to investigate the incident. The charges so far vary, but include official misconduct, aggravated assault and forgery of public records.