Twelve women legislators from both parties are backing a plan by Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) to impeach state Commissioner of Corrections Marcus Hicks over allegations that women inmates at the embattled Edna Mahan Correctional Facility are being beaten and sexually assaulted by prison guards.
Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) are listed as prime sponsors of an impeachment resolution alleging that Hicks, “through his actions and inactions … is responsible for violating prisoners’ civil rights, which are protected by state and federal law.”
Two other Democrats – Shanique Speight (D-Newark) and Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange) – are co-sponsoring the measure, along with GOP assemblywomen Aura Dunn (R-Mendham), Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany), Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) and DiAnne Gove (R-Long Beach).Read more
“Over the course of the last year, our teachers and students have navigated countless obstacles and stress in providing and receiving a quality education. As a state, New Jersey should not be adding additional barriers to our students or their educators. This past year has presented unique challenges and we must make decisions in the best interest of our children. I am calling for the elimination of standardized tests for the school year because I believe that our number one priority must be meeting the needs of our children and providing the tools for our teachers to be successful. In a year of hurdles and difficulties, let’s let our teachers teach.”
"In August, I contacted the Department of Corrections to share concerns about Sergeant Amir Bethea, a Corrections Officer at Edna Mahan. Apparently, no action was taken.
Just recently, that same officer, Sgt. Bethea allegedly led a group of officers through the facility where they beat six women. Sgt. Bethea now faces two counts of second-degree official misconduct and two counts of third-degree tampering with public records.
The history of abuse at Edna Mahan is systemic, but what happened a few weeks ago might have been prevented if the Department of Corrections had acted and properly investigated Sgt. Bethea.
I am once again calling for Corrections Commissioner Hicks to be put on leave or to resign. New Jersey must get serious about fixing the toxic culture of abuse and mistreatment in our corrections system. Prisoners are still people, everyone deserves to be treated humanely and with dignity. The Department of Corrections must take its role seriously in properly vetting and investigating officers."
In response to Attorney General Grewal’s announcement of charges against three correctional officers at Edna Mahan Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle issued the following statement:
Attorney General Grewal’s announcement today brings us one step closer to justice. For years, reports have emerged detailing the systemic abuses at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.
The New Jersey legislature has stepped up to prevent these tragedies, passing my legislation to establish protocols for the investigation and reporting of these crimes. Nonetheless, the ugly history of abuse and misconduct at Edna Mahan persists.
I am pleased to see that charges have been filed against several of the correctional officers who have assaulted and injured inmates at Edna Mahan and I applaud Attorney General Grewal for his commitment to justice. Nonetheless, I renew my call that Commissioner Hicks must be put on leave.
New Jersey must become a leader in preventing abuse and neglect in our correctional facilities, we must become a leader in ensuring safety and dignity for all.
Pintor Marin, Vainieri Huttle Introduce Bill to Combat Discrimination and Harassment in Political Campaigns
(TRENTON) – Aiming to address transportation safety, especially within New Jersey’s booming rideshare industry, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) introduced legislation today to improve transparency and safety for New Jerseyans.
The bill would require transportation companies, taxi and limousine services to report crime statistics to the Attorney General, who would issue a yearly report on this data.Read more
Bill Requiring Annual Reporting on Quality of Life, Care in Veterans Homes to Each Facility's Oversight Board Advances
In response to more than 190 residents losing their lives in New Jersey’s Veterans Memorial Homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Lisa Swain and Sterley Stanley sponsor a bill to improve information-sharing by requiring additional reporting from the Office of the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman (NJLTCO) on the quality of life and care in these facilities. The legislation was advanced by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday.
The NJLTCO is an independent advocate for seniors living in long-term care (LTC) residences throughout the state. The office helps address challenges residents may face in LTC facilities while working to bring about legislative change that would advance the rights and improve the well-being of these residents.
The Office of the NJLTCO is currently required to submit an annual report to the Governor and Legislature summarizing its activities on behalf of elderly residents in LTC facilities. Under the bill (A-5178), the office would be required to also submit a report to the oversight board of each veterans facility summarizing its activities related to the care and quality of life in veterans homes.Read more
Bill to Create Pilot Program to Provide Social, Emotional Learning to K-5 Students Clears Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Building on a social emotional learning model developed by the Clayton school district in Gloucester County, legislation to create a five-year pilot program to expand the Clayton model to schools across New Jersey was approved earlier this week by the Assembly Education Committee.
The Clayton initiative used two strategies aimed to foster students’ socio-emotional development: The first focused on the processing, integration and selective application of social and emotional skills, while the second centered on creating safe and caring learning environments by integrating peer and family activities, improving classroom management and teaching practices and organizing school-wide community-building activities.
Aiming to address the number one complication of childbirth by helping mothers experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of their pregnancy, Assembly Democrats Shanique Speight, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Joann Downey sponsor a bill that would help expand access to perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) screening in New Jersey.
PMADs – such as postpartum depression – can appear during pregnancy and up to one year after childbirth, often as a result of the drastic physiological and environmental changes new mothers undergo. Under the bill (A-1077), the Department of Health (DOH) would develop and implement a plan to improve access to screening as well as referrals, treatments and support services for these disorders.Read more