'Long and Ugly History' at Women's Prison Gets Uglier

2 sergeants, correctional officer at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility facing charges
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2021 10:17 AM CST
3 Prison Guards May Get a Taste of Life on the Inside
Inmate Mary Tobin walks a puppy down a cell block hallway at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, NJ, on June 21, 2004.   (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)

Two sergeants and a correctional officer at what the New York Times calls a "notorious" women's prison in New Jersey are facing charges after an inmate was allegedly repeatedly punched, leaving her with a broken eye socket and concussion. Sgts. Amir Bethea and Anthony Valvano had ordered a cell extraction at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton just after midnight on the morning of Jan. 12. More than two dozen officers "deployed pepper spray, rushed into the inmates' cell, and beat several of the victims without justification," NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday in announcing the charges, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. He said six women were injured in the attack, video of which will be released. One inmate was allegedly punched 28 times as she was up against a wall, per CNN. Another was beaten while in handcuffs, leaving her in need of a wheelchair, per NJ.com.

Correctional officer Luis Garcia submitted a false report in an attempt to cover up the incident, said Grewal, who described "a long and ugly history" at the prison, the only women's prison in the state. A Justice Department report, issued in April, found inmates' rights were being violated there: "Specifically, Edna Mahan fails to protect women prisoners from harm due to sexual abuse by staff." The prison has yet to complete corrective steps, per the Times. Gov. Phil Murphy is now demanding "a full accounting of how this incident was able to happen, so that we can put in place necessary reforms and safeguards." The three are charged with official misconduct, which comes with a five-year minimum sentence, and tampering with public records, per the Inquirer. Garcia is also charged with aggravated assault. Grewal said other officers at the 700-inmate prison are likely to be charged. Dozens of staff are suspended. (More inmates stories.)

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