Since Murphy is refusing to act, Assemblywoman and 2021 State Senate candidate Jean Stanfield (R-8) – herself a former county sheriff – announced Friday that she will push for Hicks’ impeachment and removal from his post.
“Nearly a full year ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report detailing widespread sexual and physical abuse at the Edna Mahan facility, under the supervision of Commissioner Hicks,” said Stanfield. “The situation has only gotten worse since then.”
“As someone who spent my entire career working to build trust between law enforcement and the community, these reports sicken me,” she added. “Corrections officers allegedly handcuffed one woman in a cell and savagely beat her, while they punched another woman in the head 28 times, all in one incident. People’s lives are at stake, and if Governor Murphy won’t act to remove the man at the top of all of this, I will,” she continued.
Murphy and Hicks have both had ample time to act. Last April, the DOJ released a report on Edna Mahan Correctional Facility. Subsequent hearings included testimony of a woman who alleged that a guard insisted that the woman have sex with him in exchange for toilet paper. Hicks skipped the hearings.
Democrat and Republican legislators have overwhelmingly called for the removal of Hicks, something Murphy has so far refused to do.
Stanfield says it’s becoming a pattern.
“Governor Murphy needs to decide if he stands with abuse victims or not. From Katie Brennan to the countless women abused at Edna Mahan, a pattern is building in which this governor would rather protect the men at top than the women being abused. His silence on this issue is deafening and keeping Commissioner Hicks in his job is nothing short of dangerous,” Stanfield said.
The constitutional process for impeachment is straightforward. Stanfield plans to introduce an impeachment resolution accusing Hicks of official misconduct. Following the process laid out in New Jersey’s State Constitution, the Assemblywoman will introduce a resolution of impeachment in the state legislature charging Hicks with official misconduct for failing to protect prisoners from serious harm and for violating their civil rights. A simple majority is needed to impeach, and then – mirroring Congress – the Senate holds a trial presided over by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner at which time a two-thirds super majority is needed to convict and remove.
“Commissioner Hicks had a full year to act following the scathing Department of Justice report, but instead, he turned his back and allowed guards to terrorize the women of Edna Mahan. These women have been sexually assaulted, physically beaten and stripped of their civil rights by the very people who are paid to protect them,” Stanfield continued. “Strongly-worded press releases are not enough. It’s time for the legislature to use our constitutional power to remove Commissioner Hicks from office,” said Stanfield. “The reports of abuse on Commissioner Hicks watch will make your stomach churn. We’ve seen guards get convicted and hard evidence presented. Governor Murphy has had his chance to fire Commissioner Hicks. It’s time for the legislature to act.”