14 guards charged with misconduct at NJ women’s prison – NBC10 Philadelphia

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A New Jersey grand jury has indicted 14 correctional officers in relation to a brutal 2021 attack by authorities on inmates at the state’s only women’s prison.

The grand jury returned the indictments after a more than year-long investigation into events at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in the township of Clinton, Hunterdon County, Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin’s office said late Tuesday.

The lawyers for the accused guards had previously said they planned to fight the allegations in court. The indictments include charges of conspiracy, misconduct, tampering with public records and aggravated assault, Platkin said.

The indictments are the latest development in a state criminal investigation that has led to significant fallout, including the resignation of the state correctional commissioner and Gov. Phil Murphy’s declaration that he will close the prison.

Based on law enforcement reports, videos released by authorities showing the extraction of prisoners from their cells and a report commissioned by the governor, a picture has emerged of what happened at the prison in January 2021.

For example, a video clip showed five prison guards wearing helmets and chest, back and shoulder armor entering a woman’s cell in the prison and beating and punching the inmate on the head. “Stop hitting me in the face!” shouts the woman.

A report commissioned by Murphy, a Democrat, in June said guards used excessive force on inmates and made false reports after removing inmates from their cells. Staff also failed to prevent male guards from seeing female inmates being strip searched, which was against policy.

It also shed light on what led to the attack and how it unfolded, saying there was “a coordinated effort” by some inmates to “inject” prison guards in the days leading up to the attack. That’s a term that refers to throwing liquids, including urine and feces, at them. The report notes that the head of the prison guards’ union said officers were angry and that things were at “boiling point”.

The episode prompted Murphy to state that he would close the prison, although a timeline for doing so was not announced.

It also led to lawmakers calling for the removal of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, who resigned in June.

The U.S. Department of Justice also entered into a consent agreement with the state that stemmed from other long-standing problems at the prison, namely that officials there failed to protect inmates’ constitutional rights by failing to protect them from sexual abuse. The August agreement resulted in a federal monitor in prison.

Platkin’s predecessor said the attorney general’s office would hold “everyone involved in the brutal January assaults” accountable.

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