Fourteen guards at New Jersey’s only women's prison were indicted Tuesday in connection with a violent 2021 midnight raid that left two women with serious injuries. The officers charged include a former top supervisor at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, a troubled institution the Justice Department found two years ago was plagued by sexual violence. Gov. Philip Murphy announced last year that he planned to close the prison and relocate women to smaller lockups, an indication that the problems highlighted by federal inspectors investigating years of sexual abuse at the prison and later by state officials were beyond repair, reports the New York Times. The indictments stem from the Jan. 11, 2021, raid, in which correction officers in riot gear entered several cells to forcibly remove women, some of whom were suspected of throwing feces and urine at guards, according to the New Jersey attorney general’s office.
One woman, pinned to the wall of her cell, was punched 28 times by a guard as she tried to shield her face, officials said. She wound up with a concussion. Officers fractured the skull of another woman who had complied with orders to let herself be handcuffed, and they left boot imprints on her body, prosecutors said. The indictment accuses the officers of planning, supervising, participating in — or failing to stop — the so-called forced cell extractions, which were carried out “with the purpose of punishing, intimidating or terrorizing one or more inmates.” Under state policy, forced extractions may occur only after detainees refuse orders to be placed in handcuffs or to leave their cells on their own, or if they pose an immediate risk to themselves or others. The indicted officers planned to go into the cells and use force “regardless of whether any resistance was encountered,” the attorney general’s office said. All of those charged had been suspended soon after the incident.