Feds to probe sex abuse claims at New Jersey women’s prison

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS -

TREN­TON » The U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice will in­ves­ti­gate po­ten­tial civil rights vi­o­la­tions at a New Jersey women’s prison where eight em­ploy­ees have been charged with sex­u­ally abus­ing in­mates in re­cent years.

New Jersey’s cor­rec­tions de­part­ment an­nounced the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Edna Ma­han Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity for Women on Wed­nes­day. It will be con­ducted by the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s civil rights division in con­junc­tion with the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice in New Jersey and state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

In the last two years, eight prison em­ploy­ees have been charged with sex­u­ally abus­ing in­mates. Last week, a for­mer se­nior of­fi­cer at the prison was con­victed of counts in­clud­ing sex­ual as­sault, crim­i­nal sex­ual con­tact and of­fi­cial mis­con­duct.

Ja­son Mays was found not guilty on 10 other counts. His at­tor­ney main­tained dur­ing the trial that the women had fab­ri­cated the charges.

An­other for­mer em­ployee pleaded guilty last year to sex­u­ally abus­ing an in­mate.

The fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion will re­view whether con­di­tions at the prison re­flect sys­temic vi­o­la­tions of in­mates’ con­sti­tu­tional rights. In­ves­ti­ga­tors plan to in­ter­view of­fi­cers and lo­cal of­fi­cials as well as in­mates, ob­serve of­fi­cer ac­tiv­i­ties and re­view doc­u­ments and spe­cific in­ci­dents.

“The New Jersey De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions looks for­ward to co­op­er­at­ing and col­lab­o­rat­ing closely with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice to rem­edy any un­law­ful prac­tices that may be found,” act­ing Com­mis­sioner Mar­cus O. Hicks said in a state­ment.

The Ma­han fa­cil­ity, which is about 50 miles west of New York City, gained no­to­ri­ety in the late 1970s when Joanne Ch­es­i­mard, who was con­victed of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Fo­er­ster dur­ing a traf­fic stop in 1973, es­caped and even­tu­ally fled to Cuba.

Fidel Cas­tro granted her asy­lum and she has lived there un­der the name As­sata Shakur. She was the first woman placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Ter­ror­ist List

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