TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman, and former Burlington County Sheriff, Jean Stanfield today announced her intention to begin the constitutional process of removing New Jersey Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks from his state office following his refusal to address unspeakable abuse of female inmates under his care at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.
“Nearly a full year ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report detailing widespread sexual and physical abuse at the Edna Mahan facility, under the supervision of Commissioner Hicks. The situation has only gotten worse since then,” Stanfield said, who began her career in law enforcement in the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
The Department of Justice report on the atrocities at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility was released in April. It outlined the convictions and guilty pleas of prison guards who sexually and physically assaulted many prisoners over the last two years alone. Following the report, the state legislature held hearings, which Hicks failed to show up for. During one of the hearings, a woman testified that a guard allegedly refused to give her toilet paper without an exchange of sex.
“As someone who spent my entire career working to build trust between law enforcement and the community, these reports sicken me. Corrections officers allegedly handcuffed one woman in a cell and savagely beat her, while they punched another woman in the head 28 times, all in one incident. People’s lives are at stake, and if Governor Murphy won’t act to remove the man at the top of all of this, I will,” she continued.
Democrat and Republican legislators have overwhelmingly called for the removal of Hicks, something Murphy has so far refused to do.
“Governor Murphy needs to decide if he stands with abuse victims or not. From Katie Brennan to the countless women abused at Edna Mahan, a pattern is building in which this governor would rather protect the men at top than the women being abused. His silence on this issue is deafening and keeping Commissioner Hicks in his job is nothing short of dangerous,” Stanfield said.
Following the process laid out in New Jersey’s State Constitution, the Assemblywoman will introduce a resolution of impeachment in the state legislature charging Hicks with official misconduct for failing to protect prisoners from serious harm and for violating their civil rights.
The state constitution starts the process in the state Assembly, which has the sole power of impeachment by a majority vote of all the members. The proceedings move to the Senate, which is to hold a trial overseen by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court. A two-thirds vote of all the members of the Senate is required to remove the commissioner from office.
“Commissioner Hicks had a full year to act following the scathing Department of Justice report, but instead, he turned his back and allowed guards to terrorize the women of Edna Mahan. These women have been sexually assaulted, physically beaten and stripped of their civil rights by the very people who are paid to protect them,” Stanfield said.
“Strongly-worded press releases are not enough. It’s time for the legislature to use our constitutional power to remove Commissioner Hicks from office,” said Stanfield. “The reports of abuse on Commissioner Hicks watch will make your stomach churn. We’ve seen guards get convicted and hard evidence presented. Governor Murphy has had his chance to fire Commissioner Hicks. It’s time for the legislature to act,” Stanfield said.