North-JerseyNews.com

DeCroce, Corrado, Schepisi Demand Changes at the State’s Department of Corrections

A trio of North Jersey female lawmakers called on Gov. Phil Murphy to hold Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks accountable for atrocities committed at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (EMCFW).

State Sens. Kristin Corrado and Holly Schepisi along with Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce are insistanting the removal of Commissioner Hicks after the state recently paid nearly $21 million to settle 22 cases filed against the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) regarding sexual abuse and harassment.

“That’s a start, but it’s not the resignation we need to restore decency and responsiveness to the DOC,” said Corrado (R-40). “As we learn more about the deplorable environment at the Edna Mahan facility, it becomes more disturbing that the Commissioner has failed to demonstrate capable leadership.”

Corrado is sponsoring a resolution which supports an Assembly measure which would adopt articles of impeachment for Hicks.

Emergency Powers

Assemblywoman DeCroce (R- 26) called on the governor to invoke emergency powers to remove Corrections Ombudsman Dan DiBenedetti from his position.

The calls followed the resignation of Corrections Ombudsman Dan DiBenedetti, who gave up the position following an eight-hour hearing on the issue of abuse at EMCFW.

However, the resignation won’t take effect until August 1, representing 114 days after its announcement.

“That’s too long,” said DeCroce. “How long does he really need to pack up his office? If he was incapable of doing his job investigating abuses when we needed him, why should we wait over a hundred days for someone who can?”

Federal Oversight

The calls came after Commission Hicks announced that federal monitors are expected to be placed at EMCFW as part of an agreement between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice, but Schepisi (R-39) thought it wasn’t enough.

“Inmates have been stripped of their civil rights and their dignity by some out-of-control correction officers with no fear of reprisal. Authority has run amok in the facility, and Hicks has stood by silently and watched it happen,” she said.

Assemblywoman DeCroce agreed more needed to be done.

“It’s unacceptable how slow change is taking even when being pushed. I’m most frustrated because every legislator I’ve spoken with wants to do something, but the only person with that power is dropping the ball,” she said.

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