N.J. budgets $90M to replace troubled women's prison

The money "will enable the complete closure" of the state's only women's prison

By S.P. Sullivan

UNION TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The scandal-plagued Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women is a step closer to shutting down for good after Gov. Phil Murphy allocated $90 million in his latest budget proposal on Tuesday toward building a replacement.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said Thursday the money “will enable the complete closure” of the state’s only women’s prison, where a series of NJ Advance Media reports and a federal civil rights probe found widespread physical and sexual abuse of inmates by staff.

The Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.
The Edna Mahan Correctional Facility. (Photo/Aristide Economopoulos via TNS)

Officials could not provide a timeline for the opening of a new facility.

An alleged coordinated attack on inmates by corrections officers in January 2021 prompted Murphy to announce the century-old prison in rural Hunterdon County would shutter and be replaced with a modern, centrally located facility.

State officials now say they’re reviewing recommendations from contractors for the Moss Group, the seven-figure consultant hired to plan the next women’s prison.

Corrections officials are expected to detail the plans at a public hearing slated for Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Among the questions they’re considering are “the costs and benefits of repurposing existing facilities or the feasibility of a transitional facility that could be incorporated into a permanent solution that provides dignity for the women, and a safe, secure, and program-intensive environment for rehabilitation,” said the spokeswoman, Amy Quinn.

[RELATED: More cameras, 'special victims unit' coming to N.J. prisons]

The consultant’s plan includes a transitionary period that’s already begun, officials said, with the movement of some inmates to a “satellite location” at the nearby William H. Fauver Youth Correctional Facility.

“NJDOC will move the remaining minimum security population to the EMCF Satellite in the near future, and the maximum security compound at EMCF will continue to remain open during this transition,” Quinn said in an email.

“The current temporary satellite facility offers more natural lighting, central heating, air conditioning, and space for the population to engage in groups and activities.”

NEXT: 'We’re always the bad guys': NJ COs work a tough job without recognition, support

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