Bill Text: NJ S2926 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Requires DOC to develop and implement staffing plan at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-09-17 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee [S2926 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-S2926-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2926

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires DOC to develop and implement staffing plan at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning staffing requirements at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    The Commissioner of Corrections shall develop and implement a staffing plan for the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women that ensures inmates in the facility are protected from sexual abuse.  The plan shall:

     a.  take into account the factors set forth in the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act pertaining to staffing as enumerated in 28 C.F.R. s. 115.13(a);

     b.  provide for an adequate number of correctional police officers to be deployed throughout the facility's housing units and assigned to observe and secure areas where sexual abuse could occur;

     c.  establish real-time monitoring of areas where sexual abuse may otherwise go undetected;

     d.  incorporate a recruiting program for hiring additional female correctional police officers at the facility in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub.L. 88-352 (42 U.S.C. ss.2000e et seq.); and

     e.  designate reasonably necessary gender-restricted posts that meet bona-fide occupation qualifications and comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub.L. 88-352 (42 U.S.C. ss.2000e et seq.). 

    

     2.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following enactment. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the Commissioner of Corrections to develop and implement a staffing plan for the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women that ensures inmates in the facility are protected from sexual abuse. 

     The staffing plan for Edna Mahan is to take into account the factors enumerated in the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to ensure inmates are protected against sexual abuse.  These factors include:  (1) generally accepted detention and correctional practices; (2) judicial findings of inadequacy; (3) findings of inadequacy from federal investigative agencies; (4) findings of inadequacy from internal or external oversight bodies; (5) all components of the correctional facility's physical plant, such as "blind-spots" or areas where staff or inmates may be isolated; (6) composition of the inmate population; (7) number and placement of supervisory staff; (8) institutional programs occurring during particular shifts; (9) applicable State or local laws, regulations, or standards; (10) prevalence of substantiated and unsubstantiated incidents of sexual abuse; and (11) other relevant factors. 

     The staffing plan required by the bill also is to provide for an adequate number of correctional police officers to be deployed throughout the facility's housing units.  Officers are to be assigned to observe and secure areas where sexual abuse could occur.  Real-time monitoring of areas where sexual abuse may otherwise go undetected also is required. 

     Reasonably necessary gender-restricted posts are to be designated in the staffing plan.  In recognition of the privacy rights of inmates,  PREA standards prohibit cross-gender viewing of inmates in showers and bathrooms unless there are exigent circumstances or during routine cell checks. 

     Finally, a recruiting program is to be instituted for hiring additional female correctional police officers at the facility to fill the necessary gender-restricted posts. 

     This bill is in response to the April 2020 report published by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office District of New Jersey entitled "Investigation of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Union Township, New Jersey)."  The report concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe conditions at Edna Mahan violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution due to facility staff sexually abusing inmates.  The report further concludes that the sexual abuse is pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of these Eighth Amendment rights. 

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