Closing Edna Mahan is Only the First Step

Maria Eva Dorigo
Published: 06/18/2021

Last week Gov. Murphy decided to close Edna Mahan Correctional Facilities. I applaud this measure. Former incarcerated women have been denouncing abuses that they had to endure during incarceration that included physical, mental and sexual abuse committed by correctional officers who hadn't been held accountable for years. The abuses they suffered are unconscionable as well as the inaction from authorities at all levels of government.

While I think closing Edna Mahan is the right thing to do, I want to highlight that the culture of abuse perpetrated by correctional officers in all facilities will not be erased because we close a facility. Correctional officers feel free to abuse incarcerated people because prison walls protect them unlike their colleagues, the police officers who work in the streets and whose actions can be recorded with a phone. Denouncing abuses while incarcerated can lead to more abuse like solitary confinement, visit restrictions among other measures.

There are plenty of those women held in Edna Mahan that deserve to be freed and not transferred to another facility. Most incarcerated women are there for drug related crimes and non-violent crimes. More than 50% of incarcerated women are single moms and primary caregivers. The sentences that people receive in the US are extremely high compared to the rest of the world. The US Criminal Justice system seems to favor revenge instead of rehabilitation. Therefore, while I thank Gov. Murphy for the decision to close Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, I urge him to use his pardon power to free most of them and pay reparations to the women who suffered at the hands of correctional officers.

Topics: Edna Mahan Correctional FacilityPhil MurphyCriminal Justice ReformJail Reform