New Jersey settles for female prisoners who say they were sexually assaulted behind bars

The state will pay a total of $ 21 million.

New Jersey has agreed to pay $ 21 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by several women who allege they were sexually assaulted while serving sentences in the state’s only women’s prison.

The settlement has yet to be approved by a New Jersey Supreme Court judge, according to NJ.com. Oliver Barry, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said if the deal passes through the court, part of the reward will be put in a trust for other potential victims. As more women make abuse claims, they may be eligible for part of the settlement.

Approximately $ 9.8 million will go direct to more than 20 women who have previously claimed to have been attacked in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.

In addition to providing damages, New Jersey and its Corrections Department have agreed to reform policy in Edna Mahan. Prison guards are now required to wear body cameras, which correction officers are forced to use.

Marcus Hicks, the State Corrections Commissioner, said New Jersey’s decision to settle shows its good intentions.

Prison cell; Image by Ichigo121212, via Pixaby, CC0.

“My administration is ushering in a new era of corrections with a focus on safety and rehabilitation,” said Hicks.

NJ.com notes that the women’s prison has been under scrutiny for years. Edna Mahan’s guards reportedly beat several inmates in January. While this case has not yet been resolved, the investigation into the beating led to charges against eight officers as well as an intensive external review. Critics and some lawmakers have also urged Hicks himself to step down, step down, or face impeachment.

The state’s settlement offer came just a day before New Jersey was to hold a hearing on the beating.

New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg told New Jersey Advance Media that the settlement “is just one more piece of evidence of an institution in crisis where a culture of abuse has been allowed to fester for years.”

Other senators also questioned the timing of the settlement – as well as the fact that New Jersey and its Department of Justice have not yet revealed any information about how they intend to settle other cases.

“A year ago the Department of Civil Rights of the US Department of Justice found that the ongoing pattern of sexual assault, brutality and mistreatment in Edna Mahan violated the constitutional rights of inmates,” said Sen. Nelli Pou (D-Passaic). “Nine months later, we have not yet reached an agreement on the details of the settlement proposed by the Justice Department. We need reforms now and clearly we cannot rely on the Corrections Department to monitor the police themselves. “

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